21:03 GMT26 November 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): With the US and the Taliban signing a peace deal on 29 February, and the formation of two governments in Afghanistan – one led by Ashraf Ghani and the other by rival Abdullah Abdullah – a new uncertainty over the power centre in the country has increased for neighbouring nations.

    Once the Americans withdraw completely, the Taliban might take over the country and impose Sharia (fundamentalist Islamic) law, says Indian strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney, reflecting upon the worst scenario in Afghanistan with regard to the US withdrawal of troops following a peace deal.

    “We are looking at a grim scenario. In the worst case, it’s possible that Afghans might resist the Taliban from extending to major cities like Kabul where there can be fierce firing with the government controlling Kabul. But the American deal with the Taliban is not likely to end the war in Afghanistan".

    With no roadmap for the power holders in Afghanistan in the presence of the Taliban and two leaders attempting to form a government after claiming victories in presidential elections, the question is what the US withdrawal will mean for the rest of the region.  

    In return for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the US, the former is expected to ensure that Afghanistan no longer continues to be ground zero for terror organisations that target the West.

    Western media outlets are asking how the US will ensure that the “Taliban is keeping their promises” or if the US president has the leverage to “simply declare that the war is over and leave”.  

    Where Does India’s Goodwill Stand?

    India has been confident of its relationship with Afghanistan.

    Reinforcing a similar optimism with regard to Afghanistan, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently suggested that Indians have a very high standing in Afghan society.

    “People genuinely like us. A lot of the work we have done is appreciated. And when it comes to Afghanistan, my own sense is, people tend to be too hard on ourselves. I think we have influence, I think we have a record, I think we have friends in Afghanistan and around Afghanistan. And my own sense is that serious conversations about Afghanistan have only now just begun. We are entering a new phase, that phase has only just begun now", Jaishankar offered.

    While intra-Afghan talks await the release of prisoners, the talks are expected to pave the way for further political developments in the country for stakeholders including India, China, and Pakistan.  

    If the Taliban engages in intra-Afghan talks, India would have no objection, said Amar Sinha, former ambassador to Afghanistan. Sinha attended talks with the Taliban as a representative from Delhi during the Moscow format in 2018.

    Like the United States, Russia pursued talks with the Taliban for peace in Afghanistan. India long refrained from participating in the talks, citing an absence of a functioning Afghan government.

    India is now pinning its hopes on an intra-Afghan dialogue. The external affairs minister said: "We will have to see many negotiations that will take place are cohesive or not. Does the Taliban want a democratic set up or does a democratic set up adjust to the Taliban. To my mind, the real negotiations will start now with the intra-Afghan dialogue".

    China-India Collaboration on Afghanistan

    The Moscow talks included China and Pakistan although Delhi and Beijing have been collaborating on their own to make inroads into Afghanistan.

    From China and India have come capacity building programmes for diplomats from Afghanistan and the two Asian countries are actively engaged in Afghanistan. 

    In 2019, India and China trained 10 Afghan diplomats as part of their first joint programme regarding Afghanistan.

    While India’s development programmes in Afghanistan consist of infrastructure building and development of human resources and trade links, China’s participation goes as far as guaranteeing its success by signing a peace deal.

    After a US-Taliban deal failed in September 2019, a Taliban delegation met China’s special representative for Afghanistan in Beijing to discuss the group’s peace talks with the United States.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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