After 9/11, the threats to America are right where they were 20 years ago: still in Afghanistan, and now backed by the strength of a state. What happened to America, that “shining city on a hill” that beckoned brightness to its shores and won allies? Some self-delusion, a belief that it was still the global monarch after World War II and the inability to distinguish between friends and foes.
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With the Taliban now ensconced in Kabul and being given legitimacy to represent Afghanistan, the worry for New Delhi is the Taliban-affiliated terrorist groups which are already looking eastward to India. This graphic shows the relationship between the terrorist groups in Afghanistan and their anti-India cousins.
The Taliban’s rapid advance towards Kabul shows clear signs of learning from previous failures. The chances of a revival of the old Northern Alliance are minimal. Regional powers are left with the option of maintaining diplomatic contact with the Taliban whilst not taking any assurances on trust.
The American decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan will strengthen the Afghan Taliban and possibly ensure its return to Kabul. This has implications for India’s security and economic interests in Afghanistan. India must step up its game by showing willingness to talk to the Taliban, while simultaneously expanding training assistance to the Afghan security forces.
India should stop looking at Afghanistan through the Pakistan prism and be a major contributor in the development of peace and prosperity in the country
Border regions and communities, some of them far from the heartland, constitute India’s first line of defence, a critical link in its national security. India’s 15,000-km borders touch seven neighbouring countries: Afghanistan (abutting Gilgit), Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar. Border regions have their own local dynamics, often shaped by subnational and religious identities that do not necessarily align neatly with political borders. Some also serve as flourishing corridors for illegal smuggling of goods and humans. Technology plays an important role in better protecting borders, but in some cases it has made borders obsolete. Despite their importance, border regions do not receive the full attention of the Indian mainstream, except when border tensions arise.
China’s ostensible intentions are to turn Gwadar port into a focal point of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. But the geography of the region is a major stumbling block in the realisation of these ambitions and raises questions about the project’s underlying motives
Since 2017, the Punjab government has been cracking down on drug networks. The campaign has so far targeted small-time drug peddlers, but deep smuggling networks that cross international as well as state borders remain intact, posing a major national security threat
India and the Trump administration are on a mutually appreciative footing. Two significant visits have given the bilateral a renewed focus and both countries are seeking ways to put their strategic and political convergence into practice
The Russians have concluded that the Afghan Taliban offer a better shield against the Islamic State than the old Northern Alliance. A negotiated settlement in Afghanistan could be achieved if Washington and New Delhi join Moscow, Beijing, Islamabad and Tehran in a joint effort.