[Editorial Analysis] Evaluating India’s options in Afghanistan

Mains Paper 2: International relations
Prelims level: Afghanistan
Mains level: India and its neighbourhood relations

Context:

• Recently, the US troops departed from the biggest airbase in Afghanistan after the 20-year-long war, effectively ending their military operations in the country.

Background:

• On 11th September 2001, terrorists attacked America resulted in the killing of 3,000 people.
• Osama Bin Laden, the head of Islamist terror group al-Qaeda, was identified as the man behind the attacks.
• The Taliban, radical Islamists who ran Afghanistan back then, protected Bin Laden and refused to hand him over.
• Eventually after 9/11, the US launched airstrikes against Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).
• After the attacks, the NATO coalition troops declared war on Afghanistan thus dislodging the Taliban regime and established a transitional government in Afghanistan.

Reason for US Pull Back:

• US has already achieved its realistic objectives such as killing Osama bin Laden and disrupting al-Qaeda networks.
• Besides, defeating the Taliban and Afghan nation-building was considered as the part of neoconservative ideological project which is a evident failure.
• Preparing itself for the unfolding geopolitical contest with china is of significance in the current scenario.

India and The US pull-out from Afghanistan:

• India has made huge investments and commitments ever since, which have run over 3 billion. Thus securing investments and strong economic ties is of pivotal importance.
• To prevent Afghanistan from becoming another safe haven for anti-India terrorist groups is of pivotal importance.
• Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for anti-India groups would disrupt the current trade routes via Afghanistan thus affecting the trade volume.

India’s options:

• Thus, to safeguard its interests, India should hold talks with the Taliban to seek security guarantees in return for continued development assistance.
• However, the Taliban’s strong relation with Pakistan should not be overlooked.
• While talking to the Taliban to protect its interests, New Delhi should also enhance aid to Afghanistan’s legitimate government and security forces and work with other regional powers for long-term stability in the country.
• India should also consider increasing its engagement with Iran and accelerating the works of the chabhar project which helps in creating direct access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
• Finally, India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan.

Way forward:

• India should take a layered approach.
• Its immediate goal should be the safety and security of its personnel and investments.
• The long-¬term goal should be finding a political solution to the crisis.
• India, as one of the countries that would be impacted by the consequences of American withdrawal, has to work with Eurasian powers to protect its interests and stabilize Afghanistan.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, consider the following statements:
1. He received the title of Rai Bahadur in 1891.
2. Anandamath is a Bengali fiction, written by him and published in 1882.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: C

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