By- Smita Mukerji
Two reference points in history: 26/01 and 26/11. What has India learnt? Have we gained the confidence as a nation to claim our place as a dominant power? Or do we still look westwards for validity of our foreign policy? Why is India still diffident and reluctant to assert power and exert her influence? Why does our foreign policy lack vision and sense of purpose? Why are we always playing catch-up? What prevents India still from grabbing the initiative in securing her strategic interests? Why are we stuck in listless soft policies like ‘humanitarian assistance’ and too passive to use to our advantage?
Nisar Ahmad Sherzai answers (3:40 – 11:45):
Does Taliban have popular support in Afghanistan? What is the reason for
the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by Talibanis.
• Taliban is no ‘power’: Pakistan and US are aware that Afghanistan is dominated up to 99% by Muslims and therefore have since 1975 tried to exploit the Islamic sentiment for their aims.
• Taliban has absolutely no popular support in Afghanistan: Pakistan and US ran propaganda against the nationalist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan that they are communists and extensions of the kafir Soviet state and incited people to wage jihad against them.
They armed factions within Afghanistan leading to civil war and from among those the Taliban was raised. They were entirely created by and protégés of the Americans. It is with their support alone that they had in (1996) and this time (2021) grabbed power in Afghanistan. The truth is that they oppressed the Afghan people to the extreme and created such conditions of terror, chaos and poverty that they are detested by the Afghans.
• US will not easily let go of its stakes in Afghanistan: The present resurgence of Taliban is powered by the Pakistani, Chinese and American states. For two decades the Americans have built their bases in Afghanistan to control the region. To maintain a hold over it and to prevent the China-Pakistan coalition from gaining control regionally US is very likely to aggress upon Afghanistan again.
• 6 Million youth in Afghanistan: A tremendous potential force! The Taliban number barely 20,000. If the youth of Afghanistan receive support they can throw off the Taliban in a single day. But the people of Afghanistan are struggling with grinding poverty. The Talibs roam the streets with cranes hanging youths in open, shooting people at random. The resentment against them is significant. India should look to ride this wave to advance their own interests and strengthen their position in the region.
India’s reticence is puzzling while Pakistan is rapidly gaining ground in Afghanistan. India has an opportunity in the covert resistance started by the Northern Alliance. If the Afghan people receive help from India, the Talibs can be eliminated completely within a couple of months, in spite of China and Pakistan backing them.
(16:35 – 20:27) There is a requirement for material, political and military support; only Tajikistan has come forward to support; India in this situation cannot afford the mistake of trusting Taliban for any kind of favourable diplomatic relation—they are diehard Islamists with no democratic values. India must step in at this point to support the Northern Alliance for securing her own strategic interests in the region. Allowing the Northern Alliance to open a diplomatic office in New Delhi should be the first step towards this.
Perspective of the US withdrawal and the present power equation in the region keeping India’s interests in mind.
Maj. General Bakshi answers:
(30:50 – 36:01)
• How Afghan army’s capitulation was forced. Asserts that the collapse was orchestrated by US.
• Taliban was welcomed previously by the people weary of the Afghan warlords. This was followed by disillusionment.
Now with 20 years of democratic rule, the Afghans are motivated to fight the Taliban’s hideously cruel oppression.
• (36:11 – 37:04) Unthinkable to contemplate any kind of diplomatic relations or cooperation with the Taliban.
• (37:05 – 38:27) Possibilities for India to intervene in the Afghan crisis.
• (39:10 – 41:06) Does India have the political will, clarity in diplomatic dealing, military preparedness to deal with the situation?
(46:28 – 48:36) (48:45 – 51:20) Background of the Afghan Situation.
(51:20 – 56:01) (56:55 – 58:40) Spillover effect foreseen for Kashmir and penetration of Taliban with the support of Pakistan special forces in Kashmir.
Maj. General Bakshi:
(1:04:27 – 1:12:14) (1:12:21 – 1:15:10) Nature of American withdrawal from Afghanistan; the agendas in play. (“Humare saamne badaa yuddh aa rahaa hai…”)
(1:22:39 – 1:25:59) The war we are faced with… (“Why should the Panipat syndrome continue forever and ever…”)
(1:26:00 – 1:30:13) (1:30:54 – 1:31:34) (1:31:37 – 1:31:40) (“We must understand we have to fight for our life and we’d better fight forward.”) (“A major threat is coming your way… it is already on your head.”) (“Don’t just keep doing consequence management. Raise consequences for Pakistan.”) (“We have to wake up and defend out interests. We are under serious threat. Our national security is being challenged: by China, Pakistan, Taliban, Turkey, and the Maoists and jihadis in our own backyard. We have a Mahabharat lined up for us.”) (“We need to create out-of-area intervention capability. Anticipate… look ahead.”)
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