By Arun Joshi
9/11 is back again on the calendar. It has been 20 years since the 9/11 etched into the world memory as the worst ever terror attack in the world.. Much has changed in the two decades since the terrorists struck in America and shook the world with their explosively demonstrative power of humiliating superpower the United States of America. That time America was a victim and its victimhood was shared by the world.
Today, the 9/11 connotes almost opposite of that. Now the US is being blamed for the resurgence of the same very terror groups, particularly Taliban that rules Afghanistan, because of its policies that have created new dangers for the world. And in the current context, biggest danger is for India because the Taliban has done exactly what it had promised it would not do. It has given credibility and position to the terrorists, inducted them into the interim government, and started shooting the women protesting for their rights.
The Taliban is playing the same game of oppression and suppression with which it had ruled from 1996 to 2001 before the American invasion in the wake of 9/11/2001. This is not mere the reversal of the clock, but also infusion of new life into terrorism. The international community is more worried now than when America was hit by the terrorists on its soil 20 years ago.
India that had invested billions of dollars in development for the people of Afghanistan as part of its outreach programme in the region. It has special ties with Afghanistan and its people. The history bears a testimony to that – Pakistan appeared on the map just 74 years ago before that it was India or Bharat all over in the neighbhourhood of Afghanistan.
India has its concerns over what is happening in Afghanistan, especially since the fall of Afghan capital Kabul on August 15, and more recently after the announcement of the interim Government of the Taliban. This Taliban government has imprints of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI or inter- services-intelligence . Rather it is the outcome of the choice that the ISI made and handed it over to the Taliban leadership last weekend. The ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed was on a day-long visit of Kabul on Saturday last ( September 4), he met the Taliban leaders and helped them resolve their differences and placed a list of the ministers of the interim government. That was announced on Tuesday ( September 7, 2021).
First, the composition of the interim government has anti-India elements in it. One, those who are believers of the extreme form of Islam. The zero-tolerance toward the women’s rights and education form core of their agenda and style of governance, and also for them, non-Muslims are unacceptable feature on the landscape that they believe belongs to the Muslim world. Since all the men in the government are blessed by Pakistan. It means greater level of concerns for India.
Second, India is worried over the impact of the Taliban rule in Kashmir. The situation has been so complicated by the turn of events that India will have to rely on some of the foreign powers to keep the Taliban-Pakistan ambitions on Kashmir in check and counter their machinations.
This is a situation where India should take due note of the fact that the international powers, including the United States, which reiterates time and again its strategic partnership with India, is keeping Pakistan in good humour. The foreign powers, howsoever, disillusioned with the ways of Pakistan and Taliban, find convenient ways to bypass the “ strategic partners” to pursue their domestic and foreign policy goals. And they know that their objectives can be best served by stoking ego of Pakistan and Taliban. President Joe Biden who had reposed confidence in Afghanistan government of President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan forces to foil Taliban has blamed them for what happened in Afghanistan, and, in the wake of August 26 bombing at Kabul airport in which nearly 180 people, including 13 American servicemen were killed, President Biden appeared to be siding with the Taliban in its fight against Islamic state – Khorasan that had taken responsibility for the brutal attack. The equations started changing. Biden cannot blame his predecessor Donald Trump and the Doha agreement for his own turnaround on Afghanistan and Taliban.
There is a message for India that it will have to deal with its problems on its own. The international diplomacy can serve a limited purpose. It will have to take care of the things to save itself internally from the influence of Taliban and at the same time tell the international community that each nation, especially that of the size and demography of India, has right to rewrite rules to save its interests within its geography and, if need be, it can undertake aggressive postures. There are risks involved in this, but without taking risks certain matters are never resolved. Pakistan-Taliban nexus may be strong enough, but that will not, and it should not deter India from taking actions to serve its geo-strategic interests. This approach alone can serve the goals at the moment and avert the looming crisis. This needs to be articulated very firmly.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.