India’s unending war on terror as New Delhi waits, watches developments in Afghanistan
With a pro-Pakistan Taliban and the Haqqani network in the saddle in Afghanistan, India must brace itself for a nightmare
The fall of Afghanistan to Taliban, a proxy of Pakistan and with deep and long links with China, has grave implications for India’s security, warn experts.
Despite public protests on the streets of Kabul, where women raised slogans of ‘Death to Pakistan’, they agree that the Taliban would not care as long as they have support in varying degrees from China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Qatar and Turkey.
The ease with which the Taliban overcame pockets of resistance, especially in Panjshir Valley, with the help of American arms left behind and under ISI’s supervision, indicates it is in control for the time being; and as world capitals witness agonizing discussions on the pros and cons of legitimizing Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, either decision is likely to extract a heavy price.
With Pakistan’s pronounced imprint on the Taliban Government, preceded by the not-sodiscreet a visit to Kabul by the ISI chief, India can do little but to wait and watch the developments. It has not officially reacted yet to Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen’s statement that Taliban would raise the voice of Muslims in Kashmir; but an alert has gone out to all states about the enhanced threat perception and the likely increase in infiltration from across the border.
The situation in Kashmir, said GoC of the Chinar Corps in Srinagar, was completely under control and there was nothing to worry. BJP President in the Union Territory Ravinder Raina warned the Taliban of not even daring to look towards Kashmir. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also made reassuring noise and claimed that all terror attacks had stopped since 2014 because of PM Modi (See box).
But below the surface there is alarm at a better-armed and better-trained Taliban helping ISI to up the ante in Kashmir. Officially the Government of India claims that Kashmir has now been integrated fully, that all is quiet and the rush of tourists (because many of the foreign destinations are out of bounds for the rich due to Covid restrictions) indicate normalcy.
The security establishment in Kashmir has also been preening over the claim that number of active militants in the Valley has come down to a few hundred from the onetime-high of 3,500.
But battle scarred Taliban, with its known links to al Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Islamic State, warn experts, will pose a much bigger threat. While the Indian Army and para-military forces have learnt to deal with explosives and car-bombs, they apprehend that this time they might have to deal with suicide bombers.
Reports suggest that the magazine of al Qaeda (Afghanistan), Nawai Afghan Jihad (Voice of Afghan Jihad) has recently been changed to Nawai Ghazwat-ul-Hind (Voice of the Conquest of India), which would indicate its intentions.
Observers are also puzzled by Chinese President Xi Jinping appointing a new General to lead the Western Theatre Command of the PLA, which overlooks the border with India. The third General to head the Command this year, the previous two lasting seven and two months respectively, has piqued the curiosity of the experts.
In 2019, Indians had been assured that the country could punch above its weight. Following the Balakot strike inside PoK, the jumla was ‘Ghus ke marenge’ (We will eliminate the enemy in its own home). Two years later, the situation appears far more grim.
India finds itself with its back to the wall and will have to mount an unprecedented diplomatic and military offensive to extricate itself from the mess.
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Published: 11 Sep 2021, 1:30 PM