India - Afghanistan: Policy Shift


India - Afghanistan: Policy Shift

The visit by Ministry of External Affairs officials, led by senior diplomat JP Singh, to Kabul on June 2 and his meeting with high-ranking members of the Afghan interim government signify the commencement of India’s diplomatic engagement with the Taliban regime. New Delhi messaged its readiness to do business with the Taliban.

While Russia is seeking to mend relations with Afghanistan, the US is following an opposite path, MK Bhadrakumar (former Ambassador)  praises the remarks by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval at the Regional Dialogue in Dushanbe recently. “He choreographed a revamped Indian policy dripping with realism and accent on strengthening Afghanistan’s capability to counter terrorism and terrorist groups, while exuding optimism that with collective efforts of the Regional Dialogue members, Afghanistan can be transformed as a prosperous and vibrant nation.

“Afghanistan should not be destabilised again and the focus ought to be more on humanitarian mobilisation and other assistance. It is a veritable rejection of the situation in the Panjshir Valley and the shenanigans of certain external actors to kickstart a new civil war. Doval highlighted the need for representation of all sections of Afghan society so that the collective energies of the largest possible proportion of the population feel motivated to contribute to nation-building. Yet, he refused to be prescriptive, and thereby reposed India’s abiding faith in the innate Afghan culture to seek truth and reconciliation.”

The past two decades, concludes Bhadrakumar  “have revealed that the West understood neither the Taliban nor Afghanistan. The stereotypical portrayal of the Taliban as zealots was far from accurate. The movement commanded more popular support than what western narratives conceded grudgingly. The Taliban are sons of the soil and nobody’s proxy. That’s why the compassion and empathy in Doval’s remarks come as a breath of fresh air.”

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