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Indian Delegation’s visit to Afghanistan - UPSC Current Affairs

Jun 21, 2022

Indian Delegation’s visit to Afghanistan - UPSC Current Affairs

It’s time to upgrade your UPSC knowledge bank with our Daily Dose of Current Affairs. In today’s edition of our Current Affairs Dialog box, we will discuss  Indian Delegation’s visit to Afghanistan and find its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus.

Read further to enhance your UPSC CSE preparation.

For Prelims: Current Events of National and International Importance.

For Mains: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.                                              

Why in the News?

India has sent a multi-member team of senior diplomats to Afghanistan to oversee the delivery of its humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.

  • This is the first official delegation level engagement of India with the Taliban regime after the August 15, 2021, takeover.

Also read: Conflict Over Aegean Sea: Turkey & Greece

Probable Question

What prompted India to initiate talks with the Taliban Regime? Outline the significance of Indian Delegation Visit to Afghanistan. 

Key Points

About Location of Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan is bordered by Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, it has a short border in the Wakhan Corridor panhandle with Xinjiang, an autonomous region of China.

What prompted India to initiate talks with the Taliban Regime?

  • Investment: India has made investments worth billions of dollars in the past 20 years. 
    • It would want to protect these investments and retain the Afghan people’s goodwill.
  • Checking Terrorism: During 1990s in Taliban era, Afghanistan became a safe haven for anti-India terrorist groups. 
    • India would not like history to repeat itself and would want commitments from the Taliban that they would not offer support for anti-India groups.
  • Strategic Interests: The Taliban remaining a Pakistani satellite forever is not in India’s strategic interest. 
    • India cannot pursue any of these objectives if it does not engage with the Taliban.

Significance of Indian Delegation Visit to Afghanistan

  • As part of its cautious approach to the Taliban, India has been supportive of the humanitarian requirements of the Afghan people and has been sending medicines and food to Kabul since earlier this year. 
  • The Indian delegation’s visit is the culmination of quiet engagement with the Taliban, which started soon after it provided indirect help in the evacuation of Indian officials from Kabul in August 2021.

India’s Hesitation with the Taliban rule

  • Terror Threat: Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad that have been keeping bases and training grounds along the southern provinces that border Pakistan could now have more ungoverned spaces to carry out attacks against India.
  • Influence of Pakistan: The Taliban’s control could also mean a bigger hand for the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies to influence outcomes for the country, which will mandate a much smaller role for Indian development and infrastructure work that has won it goodwill over the past 20 years.
  • Trade: In addition, trade through Afghanistan under a Taliban regime could be routed through Karachi and Gwadar, and the Indian investment in the Chabahar port, meant to circumvent Pakistan, may become unviable.
  • Radicalization: There is a threat of growing radicalization and space for pan-Islamic terror groups in India’s neighborhood with the Taliban regime in power.

Importance of Afghanistan

  • Geostrategic Location: Afghanistan is geo-strategically extremely critical, in terms of our outreach to the Central Asian Republics and as a counterbalance to Pakistan and China.
  • Natural Resources: A substantial concentration of such resources is along Afghanistan’s borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan which remain untapped.

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India-Afghanistan Cooperation: Brief Overview

  • The 2011 India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement recommitted Indian assistance to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure and institutions; education and technical assistance for capacity-building in many areas; encourage investment in Afghanistan; and provide duty-free access to the Indian market. 
  • India emerged as the largest regional donor for Afghanistan with pledges of almost $3 billion.
  • India has executed several major infrastructure projects, including the new parliament building, the 218-km Zaranj-Delaram highway and the $290-million Friendship Dam.
  • Despite the denial of an overland route by Pakistan, India-Afghanistan trade has grown with the establishment in 2017 of an air freight corridor. In 2019-20, bilateral trade crossed $1.3 billion.
    • Afghan exports are mainly fresh and dried fruit while India Exports include pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, computers and related materials, cement, and sugar.

Way Forward

  • India should not hurry in to offer diplomatic recognition to the Taliban’s predominantly Pashtun, men-only regime, which has imposed harsh restrictions on women at home. 
  • India should work with other regional and global players to push the Taliban to adopt a more inclusive regime, while at the same time maintaining a policy of gradual bilateral engagement rooted in realism.
About Taliban'
The Taliban, or "students" in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. 
It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries - mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia - which preached a hardline form of Sunni Islam.
The promise made by the Taliban - in Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan - was to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power.

News Source: The Hindu

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