|If there was a time in the annals of history that will define India’s tryst with destiny in the 21st century then it has come. For 20 years, the US troops were fighting in Afghanistan or what should be said our neighborhood and region while we were building libraries there as President Trump Famously chided India on her role in Afghanistan . |
Therefore instead of blaming America for its sudden and rather mismanaged departure from Afghanistan, we must try to look at ourselves and what we must do now.
While the coming of the Taliban poses a real and potent danger, not all is lost and there are many options that India can try some overtly and some covertly. The essential point is there is no time to waste and the government must immediately take this as a top priority and start the work and action. WE can divide the action plan into various categories the first and foremost is, of course, diplomatic to begin with.
The Afghan people are showing some form of resistance to the new Taliban government. The position of women and girls in that country has been highly compromised which can provide India to take a larger humanitarian posture along with other world leaders against the Taliban to mobilize public support. This can be also used diplomatically to get closer to Kamala Harris, Nanci Pelosi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, and the likes.
Then there is the issue of global terror threat which has been already used by EAM Jaishankar while addressing a UNSC meeting in New York yesterday  .
Internationa;l strategic journals like Foreign affairs are already talking about Afghan as a terror threat to the United States again  which can be exploited by India to take a pole position in the region. India has to move away with its usual shyness and coyness and has to move ahead with more conviction and vigor. Half-hearted measures will not suffice either a wait and watch policy. While diplomatic measures will be the first to be unleashed, it has to be followed by some action on the ground.
It is never too late to correct one error. The biggest folly of successive Indian governments has been to adopt a defensive posture all along may be under pressure of foreign ministries and certain sections in the defense establishment to adopt a peace-loving country posture. While this posturing has given us some benefits the losses are more and it will be even more going forward. The world has been changing very fastly over the years as if waiting for a new transformation and global dominance.
Republicans are taking Biden to task on this very point. Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned, “We are going to go back to a pre-9/11 state—a breeding ground for terrorism.” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned that al Qaeda and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) could quickly rebuild their networks in Afghanistan.
India clearly missed the bus by not sending its troops to Afghanistan something about which we have advocated earlier too. It could have formed a good plank along with American troops that could have given confidence to America also. Instead, it built libraries and spent money on infra projects. This is not the way to lead the country in the 21st century where everything will be fair in love and war. The country and its leadership has to play a policy of calculated aggression and engage the enemy on their own soil as PM Modi demonstrated during the Balakot strike.
Taliban and Pakistan both have to be engaged in their own land so that they don’t get time to look towards India. Especially the Taliban has to be immediately given a challenge so that they don’t get the time to move towards Kashmir which Pakistan may be eager to get them. The winter passes are still a few months away and November 2021 can be taken as a deadline before which India has to get its strategy and action plan ready.
The Afghan movement has just started taking shape and therefore we must not wait for a second ( yes a second) and must start supporting them with all the resources that we can. It is this moment that will define the course of destiny in days to come. This is our best chance and opportunity to fight the Taliban now that the Americans are retreating. There is a big sentimental anti-Taliban mindset in Afghanistan that can be effectively utilized by India. Both Saleh and Ahmad Masooud must be supported and given full protection. This should be done wholeheartedly unlike what we did in 90s when poor Najibullah was denoted shelter in the country just before he was hanged and was in India asking for protection.
Media and information warfare
Media has always played a vital role in all wars, especially in the current scenarios. What we read mostly in print and see on TV half of which are sponsored by various lobbies. India must start the media and information campaign on a war footing. We are already seeing a proactive Republic and India TV doing the same may be on their own.
However, the media houses will also need government support and a planned approach.
Divide and Rule
The best weapon that India has against the Taliban and Pakistan government is the policy of divide and rule. The whole region has been heavily divided into sectarian groups that owe loyalty to the tribe first and then the nation. Suffice to say here that there are many vulnerabilities in the Taliban set up that must be exploited by Indian strategic masters.
Keep the Nation United
While the Taliban, Pakistan, and China are rejoicing their success a few in India too have joined them. This is unfortunate. There will be some more idiots who will be clamouring for Taliban and minorities’ welfare especially as the various elections get nearer. Government has to be strict with all such men and parties. Recently we heard the shayar Munnavar Rana raising some voice in favour of the Taliban as well as members of AIMPLB. All such voices must be warned and strictly dealt with.
However, the government has to be careful to not consider the whole minority population favouring Taliban and victimize them. It has to be really careful while dealing with the extreme voices while assuring the normal and sane voice within the community.
The simple conclusion that we wish to place before one and all is to not waste a second of time and start working on various options that should cover all possibilities. Instead of harping on India’s nonviolence and peaceful diplomatic policies, the time has come to launch a cohesive controlled aggressive policy that should be India’s guiding principle for at least a few decades until the whole region sees peaceful outcomes.
 https://www.livemint.com/Politics/XuvW1fn6cB4HK8ORsrN0fJ/Trump-takes-a-jibe-at-Modi-for-funding-a-library-in-Afghanis.html https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jaishankar-india-terrorism-united-nations-7461770/ https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2021-08-18/afghanistan-become-terrorist-safe-haven-again-taliban?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=twofa&utm_campaign=Will%20Afghanistan%20Become%20a%20Terrorist%20Safe%20Haven%20Again?&utm_content=20210820&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017
Dr. Asheesh Shah
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