India appeared to be keen on the intra Afghan peace dialogues recently held in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban. This keenness reflected as India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also took part digitally in the inauguration ceremony while his Joint Secretary JP Singh was present in Qatar to represent New Delhi.
While addressing the opening ceremony, the foreign minister recounted India and Afghanistan’s historical relations and cooperation. He stressed the need to take into account the interests of Afghan women and the minorities amid the peace dialogue process.
This peace dialogue is vital not only for the war-torn country but also for its neighbor. Until recently, India viewed the strengthening of the Taliban as a potential threat for its interests.
Historically, the Taliban have been strategically close to Pakistan, and Afghan’s eastern neighbor has had a cold relation with New Delhi
India’s Interests in Afghanistan
For years, India has assisted Afghanistan in areas including education, health, basic infrastructure, and construction of hospitals. Besides constructing a parliamentary building in Afghanistan, India has cooperated with the land-locked country in the construction of dams, roads, educational institutes, etc.
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According to the Indian Foreign Ministry, as many as 1700 Indians are currently residing in Afghanistan, serving at the social services sectors like hospitals, banks, and security and information technology (IT) departments.
In addition, any future political setup in the war-ravaged country that is not consistent with Indian interests could hurt its strategic interests in Afghanistan
After the change of two US presidents and the killings of over 4000 NATO forces, not to mention the tens of thousands of Afghanis, the US has realized a lesson that peace is a better option.
But the war lessons are deemed to have wider effects as they leave scars, legacy, and legitimacy issues.
However, this war has been interesting as unlike most other conflicts that result in a lose-lose situation, it has resulted in a win-win condition for both the US and the Taliban.
It has taught the US a salutary lesson that not war, but peace is the last solution.
The war has also been welcoming for the most stubborn creatures, who have, though not been tamed by this war, have learned an eternal art to survive. More importantly, they have learned politics and diplomacy.
The Taliban of this era are more likely to accommodate a more flexible foreign policy that did not have much room for India during their rule during the 1990s.
Still, it would be naïve to expect any drastic change in regional policies once the Taliban took center stage in Afghanistan’s politics.
Pakistan is likely to play a crucial role in the coming days in Kabul’s politics. Yet, it would be important to see how the Taliban will be able to keep the balance between their close ties with Pakistan and the ever-increasing interests of New Delhi in developing a relationship with the force it had been denouncing until very recently.
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