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India must prepare for the Taliban threat

By VIRENDRA KAPOOR
July 24, 2021 11:47 IST
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The Taliban will view India through the eyes of the ISI and, can be relied upon to undertake hostile actions against this country, warns Virendra Kapoor.

IMAGE: Afghan Special Forces on in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2021.
A photograph shot by the Pulizer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui for Reuters two days before he was murdered by the Taliban.
 

With China showing no signs of easing tensions at the Ladakh border, and Pakistan switching gears and now adding drone attacks on military targets in Jammu and Kashmir to its arsenal of jihadi warfare, India's security concerns may have increased further with the American pull-out from Afghanistan and the resulting take-over of the country by the Taliban.

It is a huge challenge for the Indian defence forces to try and blunt the potential threat from three separate but coordinated sources.

With China in command, both Pakistan and now the Taliban can be expected to act in concert when it comes to mounting anti-India operations.

Of course, even if India wanted to it could not have controlled the fast-moving events in Afghanistan.

For, the Americans were determined about a href="https://www.rediff.com/news/report/us-war-in-afghanistan-will-end-on-august-31-biden/20210709.htm" target="_blank">abandoning Afghanistan after two full decades of waging war against the Islamic terrorists and trying in vain to plant the seeds of democracy in a land which has remained mired in tribal warfare and obscurantism for as long as one can recall.

The withdrawal by America, still by far the most powerful nation economically and militarily, was an admission of abject failure.

It was a loss of face for America. Despite all its military and economic power it was unable to tame the barbaric Taliban whose credo is to push the country back to the dark ages.

In fact, the American retreat from Afghanistan yet again steels its reputation for undertaking an endless series of military adventures in foreign lands without achieving its objective.

Since the end of the Second War American foreign policy is splattered with spectacular failures concomitant with huge losses of human life and resources.

From the Korean War in the early 1950s to the Vietnam War in the 1960s and mid 1970s, American military interventions have ended only in failure without the US realising any of its goals it had set out to attain while jumping into the fray far removed from its borders.

Of course, the Vietnam War scarred the American psyche like no other, leaving a great distaste for physical combat and the sight of body bags returning home.

On a conservative estimate, America lost over 60,000 mostly young men, besides several billions of dollars in the prolonged hostilities against the Vietcong.

In recent years too, American military misadventures meant to enhance the nation's foreign policy goals were grand failures, be it in Iraq or Syria or even Libya.

But it is in Afghanistan where the US has been defeated by a group of barbaric Islamic jihadis who seek to enforce an archaic version of theocracy in the country.

Following the September 11, 2001, attack by al-Qaeda, the US assembled a multi-national coalition to eliminate the terrorist threat.

With Pakistan double-crossing America, and giving sanctuary to Osama bin laden, the Americans were sent on a wild goose chase for several years.

The Taliban went underground and lay low with its top leadership finding sanctuary in Pakistan.

The ISI claimed to help the American war effort while it actually conspired and connived with the Taliban.

The Americans were aware of Pakistani duplicity, but were unable or unwilling to do much since geo-politics placed Pakistan at a strategic position without which the Americans could not have carried out their military operations.

After losing over 2,500 men and over $3 trillion in Afghanistan America has little to show for the 20-year war against terror.

Even as the last of the American soldiers flew home, Taliban jihadis were running rampage, having taken over with force and fear more than half the country.

It is a matter of time before Kabul falls to the Taliban.

As a consequence, sooner than later, the Taliban will be ensconced in Kabul with the ISI playing the puppeteer.

The immediate fallout will be harsh on women. A whole new generation of Afghan women, which grew under the US-controlled civilian regime in Kabul, had come to enjoy freedoms hitherto denied to them under the Taliban.

They will be forced back to draconian purdah behind the four walls of their homes by the Islamist marauders whose writ will run unchallenged even in Kabul and other urban centres.

Soon the Taliabn mullahs will have to find work for the vast army of jihadis made redundant after the retreat of the US.

It is here that India may have to reckon with a heightened threat from these elements with the ISI providing logistical support and guiding the operations in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country.

Remember, that without the Talban, the Kandahar hijack would not have been possible.

Make no mistake. The same Taliban will soon be in the saddle in Kabul.

Despite tentative contacts between India and the Taliban in Qatar, there is little chance of the Taliban shedding its anti-India DNA.

Nor is the Taliban impressed with the tremendous assistance rendered by India in building Afghanistan's basic infrastructure of roads, bridges, dams and hospitals etc at a cost of over three billion dollars.

The Afghan parliament building was built by India. So were a slew of educational centres.

India's soft power may be much appreciated by Afghanis, but both the ISI and its puppet have looked at it with sheer disdain, trying to put spokes even in humanitarian projects executed by India.

It is notable that the Indian consular staff have had to vacate their positions for fear of the Taliban attacks in recent weeks.

The American withdrawal has added to the woes of the Indian security establishment.

Come what may, the Taliban will view India through the eyes of the ISI and, therefore, can be relied upon to undertake hostile actions against this country.

A deeply indebted Pakistan is brokering peace between the Taliban and China. China is keen for the Taliban not to shelter Uighur terrorist groups waging a struggle against the barbaric treatment of the community in neighbouring Xinjiang.

In return, China promises to fund infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

It shows how deep is the Taliban's professed love for Islam that in exchange for Chinese money it is ready to abandon co-religionists most viciously persecuted by China.

India has neither the resources nor the advantage of a strategic geo-political tie-up to match the China-Pakistan-Taliban axis.

Potentially, the task of preparing to meet this challenge requires increased spending on defence, building closer ties with Iran and other Middle East nations and, above all, getting the Americans to use their influence to stop Pakistan from playing mischief, something hard to do given how it took the Americans for a ride for over two decades.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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