India’s Taliban Relations: India’s Taliban leaning curve and India’s Taliban policy is one of the most important topic for the SSB Interview. It can be asked by your IO and can come even in SSB Lecturette. So, we have provided you some insight about this topic. Recently, the US-Taliban deal has shed lights on its effects and aftermaths which will be in response to United State’s diplomatic approach for vote bank in negotiating with Taliban. To understand it’s impact on India’s relations with Afghanistan, it’s foreign policies and the future, we need to understand the relationship between India and Taliban, since it’s inception.
India’s Taliban Relations
As Afghanistan descended into a civil war, Pakistan realized that it would find it difficult to bring these Mujahideens together. So, from 1994 to 1996, Pakistan began to knit together the radicalized educated students to come together to establish a group to provide a leadership to their country. This group was called Taliban.
In 1996, ISI was able to bring Taliban into power in Afghanistan. To counter Taliban, India along with Russia and Iran began to support the United Islamic Front for Salvation of Afghanistan or Northern alliance ( a group of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras). The Taliban did many brutal public displays which sent shock waves down the spine of entire world.
India’s Taliban leaning curve
Taliban was willing to engage with India, if and only if India stopped it’s engagement with Rabbani, Northern alliance and interference in internal matters of Afghanistan. Taliban sought India’s supports because it wanted international recognition and it knew very well that India could be a friend in negotiating Balochistan, khyber pakhtuwan and Durand Line discussions with Pakistan.
So, India continued to provide covert military support and overt moral and diplomatic support to the northern alliance. And it will work on covert grounds and maintain, nurture and strengthen the covert links with Taliban.
The arrest of Masood Azhar and the hijacking of IC 814 was an eye opener to India. India realised it’s strategic failure of not being able to establish contacts with Taliban. But, with time, India realised that Taliban had no role in executing the IC 814 incident, and that it was solely the brain of ISI.
This also helped India realise that Taliban was not a threat to India. India also realised that Taliban has never fought in Kashmir. They do condemn violence there but they favour a peaceful dialogue. Officials also stated that Taliban never waged a jihad against India. All these helped India to gradually change it’s perception of Taliban.
India’s Taliban policy
The 9/11 led US to officially invade Afghanistan and remove Taliban. In 2001, Bonne conference was organised to seek political reconstruction of Afghanistan through a democratic government. India saw this as an opportunity to go to Afghanistan and broaden it’s engagement with each constituency.
Due to India’s various actions taken in Afghanistan, US recognized India as a nice big brother of Afghanistan. Specifically, the constituency specific small development projects were designed by India to win hearts and minds of local people, enabling India to generate goodwill. The developmental work by India in Afghanistan is such that, even today Taliban is highly appreciative of India.
Since 2002, India’s Taliban policy has evolved. Initially, there have been various factors that have prevented India to engage with Taliban. One of the biggest problems India faced with Taliban was epistemic limitations and knowledge about Taliban. But India always, covertly maintained a link with Taliban.
India’s Strategical point of view
India understands that Taliban’s main fight is against western forces on the soil of Afghanistan and not India or Kashmir. India has also understood that it is not possible to militarily defeat Taliban. This is why, India’s Taliban policy has witnessed five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.
India is of the opinion that Afghanistan should not be dependent upon Pakistan for military, financial or external supports. India, today understands that, Taliban is one of the various groups in Afghanistan, which are dependent on Pakistan.
Non engagement with such groups is enviable now because this would only isolate them from India and make them gravitate towards Pakistan. India wants to use the goodwill of Taliban and broaden it’s engagement in Afghanistan so as to secure it’s core interests in the region.
Even though India knows that the cost of reconciliation of Afghan government and Taliban is not going to be an easy task, it still favors engagement with Taliban because the cost of non engagement is higher than the cost of engagement.
Even though Taliban is entrenched in drugs, violence and extortion, they are still not a odds with India. Since 2011, India has officially accepted that afghan led reconciliation with Taliban will be supported by India.