India’s outreach to Afghanistan
The Indian government on Thursday decided to operationalize its embassy in a limited manner in Kabul. India deployed a “technical team” to monitor and coordinate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Recently, the government has taken several small steps toward establishing good terms with the Taliban regime.
New Delhi has also intervened in order to help the earthquake-stricken Paktika in northeastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistani border. Two shipments of aid have been delivered to Afghanistan; the first was delivered by an IAF plane that also flew the “technical team” on Thursday, and the second was delivered on Friday by the Afghan commercial airline Kam Air.
The external affairs ministry announced that “An Indian technical team has arrived in Kabul today and has been assigned to our embassy there to closely monitor and coordinate the actions of various stakeholders for the efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuing our engagement with the Afghan people”. Indian govt has not publicly declared that it will recognise the unlawful party in charge of Afghanistan, despite having visible connections with the Taliban leadership and stationing a team at the embassy.
India cannot afford to allow the vacuum to widen given the significant investments it has made in the nation over the past ten years, especially in light of Pakistan’s interests and China’s presence there. India has strong cultural links to Afghanistan and has pledged to support its people whoever holds power. The country has been actively engaged in building roads, dams, and other infrastructure in Afghanistan for decades.
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Pakistan’s ploy to damage India-Afghan ties
Pakistan has deployed its diplomatic missions abroad to criticise purported inconsistencies between India and the Islamic Emirate. Pakistan is disturbed as it was caught off guard by India deploying an official delegation to Kabul for the reopening of bilateral relations with the ruling Taliban.
According to a Hindustan Times report, some US and EU-based diplomats claim that Islamabad has directed its diplomatic missions to focus exclusively on an “anti-India narrative” by portraying New Delhi’s offer to train the Taliban regime’s armed forces as being untrue because India had previously trained Afghan national army soldiers to combat the same Sunni Pashtun force.
Additionally, it has directed its envoy to remind Pakistan-friendly nations that India formerly referred to the Taliban as a terrorist front and had supported the previous Afghan government. Pak wants its ambassadors to explain that for as long as it has a political presence in Afghanistan, India has always relied on non-ethnic Pashtun leaders.
Pakistan is aiming to draw attention to the following:
1) India’s cooperation with the Taliban is questionable because it is neither a geographical nor a strategic ally of Afghanistan.
2) Indian strategists maintain that there is no assurance that Afghanistan won’t once again serve as a refuge for terrorists.
3) After the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, 2021, many Afghan refugees who had fled to India are now being deported from that country. India was also among the first to close its missions in Kabul and consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, and Mazar.
The Pakistani diplomatic missions have been instructed to spread a false narrative alleging that New Delhi supported terrorist organisations that carried out “subversive” activities against Pakistan. They want to convey that recent Indian efforts to engage with the Taliban are an attempt to revive such activities in Afghanistan.
The anti-Indian narratives peddled by Pakistan are intended to poison the recently established bilateral ties between New Delhi and Kabul. It will not come as a surprise, in the opinion of Pakistan watchers, if investigations into the Karte Parwan Gurudwara attack show that the terror act was organised across the Durand Line.
ISIS-k, the militant organisation which took the responsibility for the gurdwara attack, has around 50% of its cadre from Pakistan with umbilical links to Rawalpindi GHQ. It is clear that the statement of Mullah Yaqoob, Taliban’s defence minister, on June 5 to send the Afghan army to India for training has totally put Islamabad in a worry. The Pakistani government’s long-term strategy to keep Afghanistan as a key area for the Pakistan Army is undercut by the bilateral interaction between India and Afghanistan.