Recognizing the Taliban emirate increases India’s options

[Indians and Aghan dependents Airlifted from Kabul]

Wars occur, popular unrests happen, foreign interventions fail, governments fall, regimes change. These are constants of the Third World scene. Hence, there were no real surprises in the recent developments in Afghanistan. Predictably, the United States ran out of political will, the finger pointing over “Who lost Afghanistan” has begun in Washington, Ashraf Ghani got out of harm’s way, and the Afghan National Army disappeared like the two trillion dollars America spent on the “never ending war”. The only surprise was how with a minimum of fuss the Taliban reclaimed Kabul.

     Now comes the tricky part for all the countries with a stake in Afghanistan of doing a hard count of gains and losses, and configuring future policies.  This requires getting a fix on the prospective Taliban system, and the attitude of the five countries in play — India, Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States.

     An emir advised by a guardianship council is the sort of sunni dispensation outlined in two Taliban-sourced documents — the 1998 ‘Dastur Emarat Islami Afghanistan’ drafted by some Islamic scholars at the bidding of the previous emir, Mullah Omar, and the ‘Manshur Emarat Islami Afghanistan’ of 2020 vintage. Both papers reject electoral democracy as lacking sanction of the Shar’ia. The leadership cohort headed by Habaibullah Akhundzada and Abdul Ghani Barader have so far sounded reasonable, promised an inclusive government and amnesty, but armed opposition is nevertheless coalescing. 

     Because the Taliban are a force of mostly Gilzai tribesmen, other Pashtun tribes could join the Tajiks, Baloch, and the shia Hazaras in making common cause with the former President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy, Amrullah Saleh, and NSA, Hamdullah Mohib, controlling several intact Afghan army units, and the Tajiks loyal to Ahmad Massoud congregating in the Panjshir Valley. With Col. Abdul Dostam mobilizing the Uzbek faction, resistance is firming up, potentially stronger than the Northern Alliance of yore.  

     India, Pakistan, China and Russia fear that, contrary to its pronouncements, the Taliban could coordinate with the al-Qaeda, Da’esh (Islamic State), Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad elements who were part of its victorious sweep through Afghanistan to respectively foment trouble in Kashmir, Talibanize Pakistan (via Tehreeq-e-Taliban Pakistan — TTP), radicalize the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang (by infiltrating armed militants through the Wakhan Corridor), and to spread “terrorist ideology” in the seven Muslim majority enclaves (Tatarstan to Bashkortostan) in Russia’s southern tier. China believes it can buy the cash-strapped Taliban’s compliance with massive credit and infrastructure projects (in return for concessions to mine lithium, gold, and copper, and extract oil and gas Afghanistan is rich in). Russia, publicly pro-Taliban, thinks it can encourage the adjoining Central Asian states to help the Panjshir opposition, which Tajikistan is already doing. Pakistan hopes its ISI can work the Quetta and Peshawar shuras it has hosted since the US initiated the war in 2001 to defang the TTP. All three countries are convinced they need to formally recognize the Taliban regime at the earliest to effectively pursue their separate goals.

     India mindlessly followed the US lead and got out. America has reinforced its reputation for unreliability and India, by forsaking a Kabul presence and direct dialogue with the Taliban leadership, has lost the ability to closely manage its interests. Rather than “wait and watch”, India should garner first mover advantage by immediately recognizing the Afghan emirate. As a surprise move in the face of Western efforts to isolate the Taliban regime, India’s interests will be accommodated by the grateful mullahs, also because, TTP aside, it will be a counter-leverage against Pakistan. A diplomatic foothold will consolidate India’s influence and more effectively neutralise anti-India groups, such as the Gulbadin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-e-Islami, active in Kabul.  This move, moreover, can draw on the enormous goodwill and popularity India enjoys, courtesy Bollywood musicals, Afghan cricketers in the IPL, etc. with the nearly 30% of the urban population the Taliban need to connect with.

     The now experienced firm of Barader and Akhundzada understands that establishing an emirate is one thing. But constituting an “inclusive government” is something else, and that strict implementation of the Sha’ria will deny it the legitimacy it craves in a still West-dominated world. However, association with a democratic India will, to some extent, soften the Afghan emirate’s image, raise its acceptability levels, and incentivise the ruling clique to foster substantive relations with India. New Delhi can offer more development projects and this work has been appreciated by the Taliban for good reason. The India-financed and built Zaranj-Delaram Highway, for instance, has eased the transportation of opium poppy from remote fields to makeshift heroin processing labs on the Iran border, and increased manifold Taliban’s revenues from the illicit drug-trade.  

     The benefit of such a realist and clear-sighted policy is that it does not prevent India from maintaining its longstanding links with the Panjshir coalition.  Indeed, the first mover recognition – the carrot, and the threat to strengthen ties with the resistance – the stick, wielded together will serve India’s strategic interests better than any other option can.


Published in Times of India, August 27, 2021 with the title — “Taliban recognition: India should be a first-mover as it serves our interests” in ‘Face-Off’ arguing for Afghan emirate recognition, with former ambassador to Afghanistan, Gautam Mukhopadhyaya, making the government’s “wait and watch” case, at

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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50 Responses to Recognizing the Taliban emirate increases India’s options

  1. San Mann says:

    Prof Karnad, I don’t think Taliban care much for Bollywood. You may argue that “Taliban 2.0” are different than before, but we can see Haqqanis have been brought in to take charge of Kabul’s security. They are among the elite forces Pakistan is deploying in Afghanistan to assert control over the country. Furthermore, Pakistan has transferred its jihadi training camps onto Afghan soil, for operations against India. Securing promises from Taliban not to allow anti-India terrorism on its soil are meaningless. Even today, Taliban refuses to acknowledge that AlQaeda terrorists on its soil carried out the Sept-11 attacks. Denial is their policy, and they could care less what others think.

    • San Mann@ — Read what I wrote: They may not, but 30% of the Afghan population living in urban areas are swayed by Bollywood, etc, and it is this section Taliban have the need to connect with.

  2. Deepak says:

    us is double faced snake.on one hand they preach democracy,human rights,women rights,civil liberties,savior of world by fighting against jihadis and on the other hand they had cut a secret deal with talibani jihadis and exited from afghanistan in a hurry leaving all major weapons and military infrastructure to the talibani jihadis .this disastrous loss in afghanistan questions the claimed super power status of usa. chaos,terror attacks,speed of taliban takeover,kabul air lifting after sudden us exit proves it is not a trustable ally for india. india needs to deal will this talibani jihadis till the time it is defeated by internal rebellion by non pashtun ethnic minorities and other jihadi factions opposed to taliban.
    with mining and other natural resources shifting to chinese hands with a possible dept trap guaranteed due to anticipated western sanctions,with taliban directly under the influence of isi of pakistan,what india can realistically expect by formal/informal recognition of taliban is only no direct involvement of talibani jihadis in kashmir.i do not see major role for india in afganistan under taliban.
    long term strategy should be to redraw boundaries of afghanistan by forming separate countries for non pashtun majority areas of afghanistan and merge pashtun areas of pakistan and afganistan into separate country of pashtunistan. this will at least reduce the geographical area of influence of barbaric pashtun taliban and split the pakistan further.

  3. Amit says:

    While you make good arguments for why India should recognise the Taliban soon, there is one thing that will make India not do this – you can’t trust the Taliban to follow through on what they say. So for example, in return for recognition and development aid, the Taliban assure India that anti India terror groups will not be allowed sanctuary in Afghanistan. Do you think the Taliban will actually do this? If there is one thing that is consistent about them is that they deceive.

    Secondly, China and Pakistan have significantly more influence over the Taliban than India at the moment. So whatever assurances The Taliban give India, they will be under extreme pressure from their two main benefactors to oppose it. Not until the Taliban gain a good grip over governance of Afghanistan, will they be is a position to oppose Pakistan and China.

    Thirdly, if India recognises the Taliban too early, and India still suffers from terror, it will look like the proverbial ‘kaddu’.

    Russia has said they will wait before they recognise the Taliban. Even Pakistan is saying that they will wait to recognise the Taliban until others recognise them. China is the only country which has said they will recognise the Taliban once a government has been formed there. But they have tonnes of money on offer and have Pakistan on their side to influence the Taliban.

    In my view, India should wait and watch how the Taliban behave. If they form an inclusive government then a carrot could be offered. But at the same time, work on the stick since no one in the Taliban can be trusted. Fund and arm the Northern alliance at the same time to strengthen the opposition to the Taliban. Build more bases in Tajikistan, leverage Uzbekistan (since both these countries have already supported opposition to the Taliban) and Iran to put pressure on the Taliban so that there is a real threat to them. Leverage the US to put pressure on Pakistan by sanctioning them – break their backs for trying to push terror into India from Afghanistan – this is something that is almost guaranteed to happen. Exploit the divisions with the Taliban and Pakistan to weaken it further. Break Pakistan’s ability to fight India through terror, which China so gleefully supports. In the process, weaken China’s gray/hybrid/proxy war against India. Then apply pressure on China through the Indo Pacific. A new front has opened up on China’s war against India in Afghanistan. India should be playing with more sticks than carrots. Recognising the Taliban early won’t do much for India.

  4. Sankar says:

    I do not agree at all with the views put forward here and the justifications given for taking such a position. India must never forget, that it was under Taliban that the very few Hindus living in Afghanistan some years back were forced to carry some yellow insignia to distinguish them in the populace just like the Jews in Nazi Germany under Hitler.

    Suffice it to say that India’s former ambassador in Afghanistan Mukhopadhaya has given a cogent rebuttal in TOI to this article with whom I agree fully. India is a too big military power to mess around with.

    Further one must not forget that the Taliban dynamited the great Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan. What if now the Buddhists nuke Mecca as a reprisal to which the Buddhists are entitled from all moral stances? What is proposed here is a pact with the devil that will surely destroy Hindu India and Hindu civilization in this world down the track.

    • Deepak says:

      india should deal with any regime in any country whether is is democratic/mulla/communist/jihadi like taliban/king/military dictator only considering national interest. it is not indias job to solve internal problems of other countries by intervening and changing regimes .dont get fooled by western dress wearing, democratically elected but internally hardcore jihadi like imran khan of pakistan/erdogan of turkey who are much more dangerous than openly jihadis like for as hindu/other minorities facing varying degree of atrocities is common in almost all muslim countries from malaysia,indonesia to bangladesh/pakistan/afghanistan no matter which form of regime is there in that many muslim countries there is no non muslims present anymore to face attocities. So in these countries like afghanistan now atrocities are faced by ethnic minorities/shia etc internal sects of islam .fighting jihadi ideology of islam is separate fight not to combine it with diplomacy with other countries.

  5. Deepak says:

    agree with you Sir, India should recognize taliban formal/ atleast informal to make sure taliban dont become force multiplier for pakistani jihadis in kashmir and preventing damage to indian built assets in afghanistan. but right now taliban is under firm grip of pakistani isi masters and china. india has very limited role to play in afghanistan under prevailing circumstances even if it recognizes taliban.if taliban rebels against isi masters/supports insurgency in pakistani pashtun areas and rebels against chinese colonization of afganistan sometime in the future then only india can play significant role in taliban ruled afghanistan.india should also keep option open to support northern alliance and other ethnic groups like hazaras to help them create ethnic nations like post soviet era central asian stan countries if taliban becomes headache for india.

  6. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    “This move, moreover, can draw on the enormous goodwill and popularity India enjoys, courtesy Bollywood musicals, Afghan cricketers in the IPL, etc. with the nearly 30% of the urban population the Taliban need to connect with”

    Taliban doesn’t need to connect with the urban professionals. They can simply threaten this section of the Afghan population, which anyways is their modus operandi (rule by installing fear in the masses)

    I spent many years in The Netherlands during that time, I came in contact with loads of African nationals living there.

    A large number of them loved Indian movies and songs but hated Indians (which they told me in private conversations) because of the behavior of Indian businessmen in African nations and the racist attitude of Indians towards African nationals in India.

    I made the above point to demonstrate that liking films/music from a particular place doesn’t translate into liking that region/country.

    Taliban is a bunch of medieval minded thugs. Their promises and assurance have no value.

    They are divided into numerous factions unified by their greed, subjugation of locals through violence and extorting money from foreign companies/governments.

    India would be better off to maintain distance from this group of criminals masquerading as the governing authority of Afghanistan.

    The country is surely going to witness a long drawn civil war between Taliban and other ethnic minorities.

  7. Gram Massla says:

    On Aug 24th IMF released 2.75 billion dollars to a cash-strapped Pakistan. Quid Pro Quo? A good guess would be the safe passage of Americans trapped in Kabul. Well that blew up(excuse the pun). Meaning? That the dust has not settled in Afghanistan and Biden was taken for a ride. Recognition of the repulsive Taliban, while feasible in the harsh world of realpoiltik, cannot be in Modi’s cards right now.

  8. Sankar says:

    Reads interesting:

    ” In his first comments on Kashmir, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has said that Pakistan and India should sit together to resolve all their outstanding issues …
    Mujahid made the remarks … with Pakistani TV channel ARY News. On Jammu and Kashmir, Zabihullah said New Delhi needs to have a “positive attitude towards the disputed territory”, ARY News reported.”

    Lol: “Jammu and Kashmir … the disputed territory” !

    • whatsinitanyway says:

      @Sankar they are trying to act like politicians while being terrorists. Give them a break :). As often happens with newbies they are following an established position , established by ‘international press community’. Next thing you know they will organise a protest outside an UN office demanding UNHRC action against India. Although one thing remains to be seen how the protest will be carried out to make a global impact … Sucide bomb… Car blast… Hostages. And as for Kashmir Pakistan already has ruined itself after obsessing with Kashmir. Don’t restrain Taliban to do the same, hand them them a shovel instead to help them dig their own grave(similar to offering a match to someone with a cigarette). Kashmir will then be known as the graveyard of terrorists.

  9. By enail:

    Sara Maheshwari, Sat, 28 Aug at 4:59 pm

    Respected Sir,
    I am Sara Maheshwari, a second year student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. I am heading the initiative ‘Defence Dialogues’ under Think India Pune, and had moderated the session where we had invited you for a talk on ‘How to Tackle China’.

    Yesterday, I read your article in the Times of India Face Off column, about India making the first move to recognize the Taliban, and how it will serve our interests. Sir, your article was really thought-provoking, informative; and brought to light a completely new perspective to this ongoing argument. I read many newspaper editorials daily, and almost all of them have the same advice for India- to not recognize the Taliban and ‘wait and watch’.

    Sir, your article and arguments were really refreshing, and I thought I should write you an email and thank you.
    Sara Maheshwari

  10. Amit says:

    Saw this article on Dawn…

    it is guys like Lindsey Graham who India has to manage well. I have seen terse exchanges between him and Mr. Jaishankar. I don’t know much about his India stance, but such people are the ones that make punishing Pakistan more difficult. I have heard many analysts from the US say that the US is afraid of Pakistan! I find it incredulous!

    But india has to force its way with the US on this, now that the logistics bogey is out of the picture. Though the current terrorist attack at the Kabul airport maybe a ploy to keep intact the logistics bogey by Pakistan. So that they can continue to milk the US. India needs to play more hardball with the US to punish Pakistan. Apart from punishing it itself, for any further terror attacks – but I think the Indian army is already prepping for this.

    • Sankar says:

      Please read the expert studies of Christine Fair Professor of Political Science in the US, some accessible on the internet and others published in learned international journals on World Affairs in the context of Kashmir and the UNSC resolution (1949). She has exposed the “true face” of the US policymakers such as the State Department, CIA … as well as the line of all US Presidents dealing with Kashmir, India, and Pakistan ever since the British Dominion of India got independence. India has absolutely nothing to answer politically and legally (international law) to the world body. Pakistan was the aggressor and must vacate the part of Kashmir under its occupation.

      According to Professor Fair, all the US Presidents are well cognizant of the history, politics, and terrorism events in J&K. But none of them will lift a finger to stand up for the right cause, but go on lecturing moral lessons on Kashmir. I guess, India does not fit in their global strategic interest to be on India’s side on Kashmir. Delhi will have to live with that and must stand up to defend Indian sovereignty. Russia is India’s only natural ally here.

      • Amit says:


        Yea, I watch Christine Fair’s videos too. Looks like she has been sidelined in the US political circles according to her latest videos. My point is simple. India has more leverage with the US now. While in the past the US and the UK conspired against India on Kashmir, the situation is different now. No need to be emotional about it, but just put pressure on the US to punish Pakistan. The US Is a divided house when it comes to Pakistan. There are plenty who are fed up with it. And with Pakistan’s utility going down now after the Afghan withdrawal, US and Indian interests could be more aligned, and frankly who cares – India should be forceful with the US on Pakistan. In the meanwhile, Indians should be less emotional about US’ past behaviour. Just do what is required to beat China. After all, China is using Pak to fight its proxy war with India.

    • Prabal Rakshit says:

      I think Pakistan has done really well to cultivate a helpful lobby within US lawmakers across party divides. Anytime an action is planned against ISI or GHQ, there is a considerable resistance from within the US itself. So yes, US being afraid of Pakistan may not be completely untrue.
      Israel has shown the way of cultivating a very helpful Jewish lobby to further its interests. Possibly Pakistan, China has done something similar. India, historically has been helped by East Coast Democrats like Stephen Solarz, Gary Ackerman etc. but not to the extent that it could influence serious policy matters.
      Prof Karnad: US does not hesitate shedding blood on Pak soil (e.g. Abbottabad) if need may. Why else would for 4 US presidents spend over $2 trillion on a leaking sieve trying to clean Taliban, knowing fully well that the Pak supply chain remains intact?
      Would love to hear your views.

      • No, the Solarz days from the 1980s are long gone. India’s lobby led by USINPAC (US-India Political Action Committee) in Washington is now considered the best funded, most powerful and effective after AIPAC (America-Israel Publc Affairs Committee).

        Pakistan will always be an American ‘tuttoo’ and will be used to further US interests in the region whether India partners the US or not. One should not underestimate Pakistan’s utility to the US and institutional, esp military, links. Pakistan’s sustaining the terrorist outfits for Kashmir action is a political inconvenience (vis avis relations with India) but not a deal-breaker for the US.

  11. Sankar says:

    “All three countries are convinced they need to formally recognize the Taliban regime at the earliest…” –
    I do not know how one can draw such a conclusion at this point in time concerning Russia since there are news reports to the contrary. Here is one:
    “Moscow is in no rush to recognize the Taliban as the new rulers of Afghanistan, but it has already developed relatively good relations with the group. …
    But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters this Monday that Moscow “does not intend to intervene in the conflict between the Taliban and the resistance forces in Afghanistan.” “-

    Obviously, Russia is ambiguous in its diplomatic move. I would interpret it as an undercurrent of tacit Russian support for the build-up of resistance to the Taliban’s fait accompli in grabbing the seat of power in Kabul. It remains to be seen how the political struggle unfolds in Afghanistan. To my mind, Modi has taken the correct position in distancing from the Taliban in the current imbroglio.

  12. Rudra says:

    Sir should/can we use afg refugees to solve India’s gender ratio imbalance ?
    India average 900:1000 (much worse in haryana at 800:1000)

    • How do you propose doing that?

      • Rudra says:

        Bring afg single women/mother , also girl students ,give refuge. After few months when shor-sharaba is down , marry them off and give citizenship.

        In short – gender biased immigration

        (Biologically speaking – increasing the gene pool and Gene diversity is not bad, it’s the objective towards which humans have always strived for . 746 districts can assimilate minimum of 74600 af chics, so we will be stabilizing 74600 families immediately )

      • Rudra@ — “marry them off” — not practicable and against human rights

      • Rudra says:

        (Our ancestors brought them from as far as Greece , we shouldn’t let them down, we should do our part and so that our ancestors will be proud. Give refuge to afg womb abled women )

  13. Sankar says:

    An insightful analysis by Professor Fair on Afghanistan bombing and Pakistan’s complicity:

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Sankar- I watched the link.

      She’s wrong about 2 points;

      1. Approximately 28 Talibani’s were killed in the attack on the Kabul airport. She mentions that no Taliban member was killed.

      2. Her remarks about China not being bothered about the instability in Pakistan.

      Chinese personnel and projects are being targeted in the CPEC.

      China is very worried about it.

      Whether RAW is behind it or not is a point worth considering. I personally believe that Indian intelligence is involved in sabotaging CPEC.

      Geopolitical Games.

      • Sankar says:


        1. How accurate is the press report that 28 Talibans were killed? Professor Fair made her statement at a point in time, and I would assume that her sources were authentic at that time when she gave her opinion. Maybe the source was wrong. – retrospectively, one gets corrected for sure with more information coming. In my mind, it will be premature to assume that the news at present is the ultimate truth.

        2. I would go along with her view that China is not that perturbed at this point in time – there is no evidence in the public domain to the contrary.

        Taliban needs China for funds if they come to power finally in Kabul. So, it is unlikely that they will infringe on China’s core interest. It is too early to speculate that China is “worried” at present for the Taliban irrespective of what is happening in Pakistan.

  14. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    What a nice double game by Pakistan. First get some so called suicide bombers ready and then inform the Americans about the vehicle carrying them.

    ISI controls Taliban as well as majority of other groups (Islamic State, Al-Qaeda etc.) in Afghanistan.

    India recognizing Taliban or not doesn’t make any difference because ISI will never let India consolidate its presence in Afghanistan.

    Secretly providing heavy arms to the anti-Taliban alliance in Panjshir through reliable non state actors is the best India can do under the present circumstances.


    India’s position is certainly very interesting when it comes to the current situation in Afghanistan.

    1. India would love to have a weak government in Afghanistan that can ensure that Pakistan is busy with its Western border with Afghanistan. So for that matter India would not like the Taliban to consolidate its position in Afghanistan. The most major enemy for Taliban is ISIS-K. Much of the ISIS-K is made up of former TTP fighters who are backed by India and TTP have been fighting against the Pakistan army for close to a decade now. So far according to Mr Najam Sethi the TTP is willing to hedge its bets by balancing Taliban with the ISIS-K.

    2. China and Pakistan wants the Taliban to fight the TTP and ISIS-K. Russia, Central Asian countries and Iran also want the Taliban to ensure that Afghanistan is not the staging and breeding ground for TTP and ISIS-K. Remember both Russia and Iran recently fought and defeated ISIS in Syria. They would not want to face that same group in their own backyard any more.

    3. Both China and Pakistan consider India as responsible for the blast that recently killed nine Chinese engineers in the Dasu attack. Indian hand can also be seen behind the recent suicide blast that targeted Chinese engineers in Gwadar. Considering that BLA took responsibility for that attack in Gwadar and many Indian commentators have claimed support behind this recent BLA attack.

    4. Both China and Pakistan are more important to the Taliban for the simple reason that the Chinese hold more money and the Pakistanis hold all the security related cards for the Taliban. I believe these are much bigger cards than the TTP/BLA. The Taliban needs money as well as intelligence to survive the ISIS-K and other myriad pitfalls of governance. China and Pakistan (as well as Russia, Iran) can provide it better than India.

    Considering all these above scenarios I believe that even if we go on to recognize the Taliban before everyone else in the region (this is an unlikely scenario considering that the RSS/BJP would like to use the Taliban as a serious issue before and during the UP elections) I doubt that recognizing Taliban would ensure our objectives vis a vis China and Pakistan.

    I would love the extremely influential views of Mr Karnad on this matter.

  16. By email from Lt Gen JS Bajwa (Retd), indian, Defence Review
    bharat karnad

    Mon, 30 Aug at 4:10 pm

    Only 10.3 percent of the readers of TOI who polled agreed with you.
    Obviously you are advocating something that is morally not acceptable nor does it further India’s interest!

    • @ Lt Gen JS Bjawa — Foreign policy is not made based on opinion polls.

      • Sankar says:

        @Professor Karnad:
        Well, that may be true, but the opinion polls play a dominant role and are a pointer to who gets elected. And the elected representative (the Ministry and the Cabinet, and the PM as party leader) decides the foreign policy in a democracy with input from the higher officials. The think tanks, strategic analysts, and other academic experts are the backbone of building opinion polls. Thus, the opinion polls are not irrelevant. This is the way a modern nation-state evolves – there is no escape route here for the experts.

      • Sankar@ – Perhaps. But the trouble is if foreign policy is dictated by popular likes and dislikes, it ends up ill-serving the national interest.

  17. Sankar says:

    @Professir Karnad:
    I take your point in a positive light, but this is a far more serious issue than “likes and dislikes” – there are fundamentals at stake dictated by history, that Pak has been the aggressor four times since it came into existence. No one is entitled to lose sight of that record. After learning that Kashmir cannot be wrested out of India’s hand militarily by waging war, Pak has adopted the path of terrorism if that succeeds. I would guess that the vast majority of Indians have understood that and are united on fighting that menace. Here I adhere to Manekshaw’s view (I lost the reference) that India must be ever vigilant to China and Pakistan to safeguard her security.

    • Sankar@ — Methinks, you have fallen into the “Pakistan” trap that most Indians and GOI have willed themselves into. Terrorism is the weapon of the weak, as it is said. But it can be blunted by coopting Pakistan economically, which is very. very feasible, and were GOI animated by an iota of strategic sense that’s what it’d be doing.

      • Amit says:

        But Professor, don’t you think that China is propping up Pakistan and uses it to wage a proxy war against India? So China will do everything in its power to prevent peace between Pakistan and India. Especially now that it has started building the CPEC. And that suits Pakistan very well since they have a powerful benefactor in its war against India.

        Additionally, I am not sure about your comment about peace with Pakistan is very very feasible. Who will India negotiate with? Not the civilian government, and it seems lately, not the Military as well. The Military does not have control over the terror groups it has created. So are you going to negotiate with the terror groups? And with the Taliban gaining control of Afghanistan, this lack of control will only increase with various factions going against each other.

        India has to break Pakistan away from China in its gray war against China – there are two ways to do this – punitive action against Pak terror attacks or negotiated settlement. Things have changed in the last few years to make negotiated settlement almost impossible. Why do you think it is still possible?

      • Amit@ — The Pak army is who India should negotiate with; it almost got us there in 2007 with the Musharraf-Manmohan Singh draft agreement. China capitalises on Pakistan’s animus for India, but the latter is not a proxy.

  18. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Professor Karnad- I complete agree with you that China is the main threat to India however, Pakistan is no saint.

    2007 is long gone. Pakistani army and ISI have now bought their creation Taliban to power in Afghanistan.

    China is providing huge amount of funds to Pakistan. India cannot compete with China financially.

    Pakistani establishment (army, bureaucracy and politicians) are masters of swindling funds coming from China, US and the Middle East.

    What you are suggesting will not change anything. One faction of the Pakistani army will gobble up huge funds from India in the name of normalizing relations while the other group will continue their anti Indian operations.

    The status quo will prevail. A few incidents in Kashmir and elsewhere. Pakistan will continue to deny its involvement citing their favorite phrase, “non state actors are involved’

    Meanwhile, this is just one example of the mess created by the Yankees in Afghanistan;

  19. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Subramanian Swamy is a BJP Rajya Sabha M.P, when he says that Chinese army should go back to its 1993 position then it clearly implies that China is occupying Indian territory.

    Who is lying, Modi (Naa koii ghussa haii….) or Swamy 🤔

  20. Deepak says:

    Sir,is there any truth in alternate theories about 9/11 which are simply dismissed as conspiracy theories.there are some who say it was a false flag attack done to give justification for pre planned afghan invasion in 2001 mainly to create a military base in central asia against russia.

    it is hard to believe cia could not find osama till is too foolish to believe usa was ever interested in fighting jihadis when they were taking help from state sponsors of terror like biden is saying their objective was to finish al – qaeda and bin laden which they achieved so exiting from afghnistan and it was never about afganistan nation building project(only by product of us invasion).

    bin laden was killed in 2011 itself.what were they doing for last 10 years if they have achieved target in 2011 itself.why sudden pull out this late realization of usa that military base in afghanistan is non viable with high cost/military causalities and limited utility?your thoughts on this please.

    • If you go through the historical record and documents with a fine toothcomb, you’ll discover that the US Central Intelligence Agency funded and sustained the mujahideen — thereby releasing the bottled-up extremist Islamic genie — during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, then the al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) or Da’esh. So….

  21. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The following is a brilliant comment in the comments section of the aforesaid article;

    Modi’s Gujarat has humongous business interests in China. Modi sacrificed not only 90000 sq.kms along border, Galwan, Pangong Tso, Dhoklam, with China but also 20 soldiers to save the business interests and therefore flow of party fund and therefore votes in Gujarat. PERIOD. Losing Gujarat to other political parties is a bigger shame than losing 90000 sq kms, Galwan, etc to China.

  22. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    What a brilliant business idea by the Hindu version of Taliban in India.

    First ban liquor & meat then let your sycophants sell the aforementioned at double/triple the previous prices and laugh all the way to the bank.

    This man masquerading as a Yogi should be sent to Afghanistan to deal with his fellow religious fundamentalists of Taliban.

    • Deepak says:

      hey Gavrav,you are a self loathing hindu living a decent life with free speech only because this country is still hindu majority.there is nothing like hindu taliban other than secular lobby propaganda about dismantling global hindutva like events which is blind to islamic terror all over the world and targeting hindus who are already facing existential threat.
      go to afghanistan and live there for just 1 week to understand what religious fundamentalism nitin patel rightly said democracy,courts etc will be there only till this country remains hindu majority.the day muslims become majority in india they ll demand sharia law,another pakistan.exodus of hindus ll begin from muslim majority areas as happened to kashmiri pandits.
      this is not islamophobia but a realistic assessment of muslim behavior all over the world without any exception. muslim mindset all over the world is same.they want secular law only till the time they are in minority.the day they become majority there is no place for non muslims.

  23. whatsinitanyway says:

    I agree with Professor.. foreign policy should have little or no moral basis(but should appear as such). Look at what happened with LiTTE…we should have continued supporting them it might have helped a long way in serving our interest in the island and gotten us the solidarity of some hardcore Tamil leaders. Now look at Sri Lanka- China is all over the place with those ‘infra projects ‘even in the North. All because Rajeev ji decided to be moral. The difference here is that LITTE could be trusted. With Taliban it’s a big if given that islamic terrorism is an issue… Trade, infra are fine. At the end of the day no matter how good relations you have with the country it always comes down to military and/or economic might. Similarly public opinion is an output to what is being fed … it is susceptible to propaganda or biases without any rational analysis, even in nations with ‘free press’ as Joydeep Circar pointed out with Yanks and the movies.

  24. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Deepak- First of all learn to write proper English. Let me give you a free tip.

    When a sentence ends, you put a full stop, then the first letter of the new sentence is always in Capital letter.

    Religion is one’s own private business. You are no one to tell me that I am a self loathing Hindu. I can turn back and say that you are a self loathing Hindu fundamentalist akin to a ‘frog in the well’

    On one hand, you believe in 9/11 being an inside job by the American government and on the other hand, you are painting all Muslims as evil.

    I have travelled to numerous nations widely across three continents. Let me tell you that not all Hindus are saints and not all Muslims are satans.

    Hold your horses about my living in India or Afghanistan. I am settled in China and criticize the Chinese regime as well. I regularly visit India and speak my mind freely.

    Hindus aren’t facing any existential crisis. This is an utter nonsense spread by Hindu fundamentalists of RSS/BJP.

    No one has the right to dictate what the other person should eat/drink.

    Gujarat has BJP government since a long time. Let me tell you an interesting fact about this state.

    Gujarat has prohibition. It means Alcohol is banned in that state. One of my close friend is a businessman based in Ahmedabad. He told me whichever brand of alcohol one needs, it’s delivered at home by the Police. Cops in Gujarat are liquor smugglers as well. No tax goes to the government treasury. Crores worth of liquor is sold in this manner across the whole of Gujarat.

    BJP politicians (party in power in Gujarat) and Gujarat Police are earning huge amounts of money through the aforesaid racket.

    Next time you visit your local RSS shakha. Ask the headmaster of shakha about it.

    • Deepak says:

      @Gaurav, i dont need to learn proper english grammar to express my opinion.I have criticized modi for his failures more than you ever did nor do i ever visited any shaka.i dont care if you call me hindu fundamentalist.i never told all hindus are good and all muslims are evil.I have written realistic assessment of what will happen to non muslims if muslims become majority in any country.if you cant understand this writing on the wall it is your problem not mine.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        In today’s age, it’s very difficult to even raise 1 kid properly. Heavy competition in every sphere. Skyrocketing prices including that of education. Population growth therefore is largely confined to people belonging to lower income strata of the society. There are Hindus as well as Muslims in this category. Looking at India’s demographic composition, muslims will never become the overwhelming majority (population wise) so stop seeing ‘imaginary writings on the wall’

  25. Deepak says:

    @Gavrav –
    muslim population grown from 9.9% in 1951 to 14.2% in 2011.hindu population dropped from 84.1% in 1951 to 79.8% in 2011.there is a decline of hindu population every decade and raise of muslim population every decade.
    kashmir valley is already no go area for hindus. malabar of kerala,parts of west bengal,parts of bihar,parts of western uttar pradesh,lower assam are facing immediate demographic threat.
    birth rate has fallen across all communities but not uniformly. birth rate of muslims always remained more than hindus and will continue to remain so.
    these are official statistics of government of india from 1951 not some imaginary figures generated at rss shaka to instill fears in mind of hindus.
    you can wake up a person who is sleeping but not a person who is pretending to be sleeping.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Deepak- 1951-2011 is a time frame of 60 years. 79.8% versus 14.2% is still a sizeable gap. There is no chance of Muslims overtaking Hindus population wise in India.

      Population (demographic dividend) has no meaning unless that population has a decent standard of living.

      Kashmir is under central government (Governor rule) so, what stops any Hindu from going there?

      Meerut in Western U.P. is my home district. I haven’t faced any problem from Muslims.

      As I have stated previously population growth is directly related to the education/economic status of a family.

      Lower the education/financial background, more kids. Nothing to do with religion.

      There are fundamentalist elements in every religion. Their blabber is not meant to be taken seriously.

      I don’t like religious fundamentalism of any kind be of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian etc.

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