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Major Amit Bansal analyses what Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan means for India.

Aug 13, 2021

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Updated: August 13, 2021 2:26 PM IST
By Amit BansalEmailFollow
The last three days have been full of action in Afghanistan. Taliban has made blitzkrieg advances and is now controlling almost 80% of the hilly country. They initially captured south Afghanistan, then moved to the West and then to the north.Also Read – Amid Looming Threat of Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan, India Issues Advisory For Its Nationals, Journalists Top Points
The United States had no affection with Afghani people when it signed the peace deal with the Taliban in Qatar. Since Uncle Sam is repositioning its focus from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific, it was so eager to withdraw the forces from Afghanistan that their emissary Zalmay Khalilzad signed the agreement of withdrawal even without a power-sharing agreement with the current Afghan govt. The agreement was limited to not harming US forces and was totally silent on the Taliban’s support of international terrorism. Despite close Indo-US relations, the entire deal signed was one-sided and Indian interests were not even thought of.
The result was visible in Afghanistan. In the last 24 hours alone, several prominent towns of Afghanistan including Ghazni and Herat had fallen to the Taliban while the Pakistan-sponsored terror force of the Taliban is advancing rapidly towards Kabul. So intense was the fight that prominent military commanders like Marshal Abdul Rasheed Dostum, Ata Mohammad Noor, and Juma Khan Hamdard had to move from their strongholds to Mazar-E-Sharif. Mujahideen leaders like Ismail Khan, Deputy Interior minister Abdul Rehman Rehman, General Abdul Sattar Qane, and Director of Afghan Intelligence (NDS)Haseeb Siddiqui along with Herat Governor were caught alive by the Taliban with their helicopters last night while they try to flee to Kabul leaving all their forces and other military paraphernalia at the mercy of Taliban. We do have a large list of Afghan politicians and military commanders who have already fled the country to Europe, America, or other countries.
In case the Taliban succeeds in establishing their control over Kabul, it will ensure that the Taliban rule over entire Afghanistan. The current government will cease to exist, and Islamic Fanatics will have their way. This will have serious ramifications for the world especially India. Taliban has always remained antagonistic towards India and their recent statement a day back from Doha reaffirms the same. They have blamed India for having an impartial attitude and threatened for direct action. Since India does not have any direct channel of communication with the Taliban, there is no possibility of improvement of the mutual relations too.
Let us discuss some of the ramifications on the Indian and global community with the rise of the Taliban in the Indian subcontinent.
Threat to Indian Investments
The first and foremost ramification for India will be the threat to its investments. Over the last two decades, India had been a partner with Afghanistan in building its infrastructure, Education, Medical, Agriculture as well as power generation. The partnership is strategic in nature too with over 3 billion USD investment from the Indian side in Afghanistan. There are many Indians’ working on these projects including the building of the Shahtoot Dam on the Kabul River, the work for which has just started only. After the control of the Taliban over Afghanistan, all these projects are likely to be stopped abruptly, and not only Indian investments will be lost but the pace India took to provide help to war-ridden countries will go in vain.
Safety of Indian Nationals in Afghanistan
The security of Indian nationals in Afghanistan is a major concern too. As of date, all the Indian Consulates located in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-E-Sharif have been shut down and Indian staff, as well as nationals stranded in these areas, have been evacuated to Kabul which is the only major town left from the control of Taliban. There are more than 2200 Indian Citizens in Afghanistan now which will be a direct target by the Taliban. Taliban has not yet given any assurance about the safety of Indian Nationals too and threat to their lives cannot be ruled out. Taliban had displayed its intentions by killing an Indian Journalist in cold blood recently, so India has to be wary about it.
Rise of International Terror groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State
The rise of International Terrorism is another aspect we must look into. It is a universal truth that the Taliban is a proxy of Pakistan and had been controlling various terror groups like Haqqani Network, Lashkar-E-Toiba, Al-Qaeda, and even the Islamic State. As per an estimate, over 500 dreaded Al-Qaeda fighters are enjoying the hospitality of the Taliban which include Ayeman Al Zawahiri and Saif-Al-Adel. Terrorists of various Pakistan-based terror groups fighting in Kashmir get their training in Taliban-run camps in Pakistan and have the association of Lashkar-E-Toiba with the Taliban is not a secret anymore. Similarly, there are other terror groups that are a proxy to the Taliban. This fact was mentioned clearly in various UN reports too. With Taliban control over Afghanistan, these terror groups will become more powerful, and this will be a serious threat not only to India but to the entire humanity. The United States which is keeping its eyes closed now may have to repent later as Al-Qaeda will use this opportunity to reorganise, regroup, recruit and launch more terror attacks.
Increase in terror activities in Kashmir
India’s worry about the increase in terror activities in Kashmir is a real one. There had been several infiltration attempts in Kashmir where groups of foreign mercenaries trained and operated in Afghanistan have tried to enter the “Heaven of the Earth”. The last few months witnessed the killing of some high-profile terrorist commanders of Pakistani origin in Kashmir. After the 5th August 2019 events, Pakistani ISI is in utter frustration and is too eager to re-start the terrorism in Kashmir and hence is facilitating the influx of foreign terrorists in collaboration with the Taliban into India.
International Drug Trade
Taliban’s economy is primarily based on the production of Opium, Heroin, and other drugs. It is estimated that in the year 2020, more than 85% of the world’s heroin came from Afghanistan primarily from Taliban-controlled areas. It has been reported that the Taliban has established factories to produce certain other drugs too like Methamphetamine in their territories in the last two years and are poised to use the drug business as their prime source of revenue. As per a report of a UN Monitoring group, the Taliban earned more than 460 million USD in 2020 alone from the tax on Poppy cultivation which is almost 50% of its total revenue. With more territories falling into Taliban hands, they will promote more production of drugs for better revenue and since they will be controlling the power, there will be no control over the drug proliferation all over the world. The drug industry will work like a government-backed program which is a serious threat to the world.
All these aspects are real and will emerge as a threat very soon. Taliban has shown its colours when it came to power last time. Things have still not changed. The situation in Afghanistan is very critical while global powers including United Nations are watching it helplessly. India has its own set of worries however at this stage things cannot be reversed so have to be taken with a pinch of salt. While the fall of Kabul is becoming imminent, India should wait, watch, and plan its actions carefully.
Amit Bansal is a Defence Strategist with keen interests in International Relations and Internal Security. He is also an author, blogger, and poet.
(DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India.com. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.)