India is Attempting to Extend its Influence into Afghanistan after the US Withdrawal

3 years ago




The "Eurasian Times" newspaper confirmed that India is taking advantage of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan to increase its influence in the country by offering its military assistance.

A report of the newspaper, which focuses on the "Eurasian" region, indicated that India suggested providing military assistance to the country devastated by decades of war, in conjunction with the ongoing peace talks in Doha among the Afghans.

Washington is currently busy withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan days before elected President Joe Biden takes office.

On January 15, 2021, Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said that US troop levels in Kabul had now reached 2,500, down from 4,500.

During January, Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and Afghan Foreign Minister Muhammad Hanif Atmar spoke over a phone call to discuss the Afghan peace process among other issues such as the coronavirus.

A report published by ThePrint claims that Afghanistan is seeking to forge a national and international consensus on peace talks with the Taliban in order to secure the support of "Old friends like India".

India's Role

With $2 billion invested in aid and construction activities in the country, India has played an important role in peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 The report explains that India's quiet and soft efforts to increase military assistance in Afghanistan since 2016 have included the supply of four attack helicopters.

Siddant Kishore, an expert on Afghanistan at the Observer Research Foundation, notes that foreign forces are currently providing security cover for Indian infrastructure projects across Afghanistan's 34 provinces, but the changing environment "requires a comprehensive security measures"

"India has called on all components of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of everyone in the country, including the minority communities," Kishore wrote. Meanwhile, the Afghan leaders look to India with great hope.

In a related context, the report indicates that New Delhi has seen an increase in the number of visits from senior Afghan leaders in 2020, from former Vice President Field Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum to the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and General Atta Muhammad Noor.

During these visits, high-level meetings were organized and attended by India's top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla and others.

The three Afghan leaders had a long-standing friendship with India, including General Noor, a "former mujahideen commander who took up arms against terrorists as governor of Balkh province when the Indian mission was attacked in 2016 in Mazar-i-Sharif".

The three leaders played an important role in the establishment of the resistance against the Taliban at the time of the civil war, and now they expect that "India will participate in a proactive role in Afghanistan, and not be a mere spectator of developments," as emphasized by Kishore.

Peace Talks 

The peace agreement for Reconciliation in Afghanistan was signed between the US Special Representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Taliban political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Doha on February 29, 2020.

The two sides recently achieved a breakthrough by agreeing on the procedural flow of talks. Khalilzad, who was appointed as President Donald Trump's chief negotiator with the Taliban, recently returned to talks and expressed concern about the increase in killings.

From its side, India supported the reconciliation process, while informed sources confirmed to Theر Print that New Delhi is waiting to know how the peace talks will end under the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, which has not yet determined its policy in Afghanistan.

The Afghan peace negotiations in Doha aim to end 42 years of armed conflict in Afghanistan, since the military coup in 1978 and then the Soviet invasion between 1979 and 1989.

Qatar previously played the role of mediator in the negotiations between Washington and the Taliban, which resulted in the signing of the historical agreement, in February, for a gradual US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the exchange of prisoners.

Negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement began in Doha on September 12, 2020, and were suspended for a period due to differences in viewpoints, before continuing again.

After achieving consensus between the two sides on the negotiation formula, the Afghan parties engaged in a second round of negotiations to define the terms of the negotiations.

It is expected that the main negotiations will start if the second round is successful.