China is leading India in a power tussle to become a regional superpower with economic aid and talks with the Taliban forces during the Afghanistan crisis
In a virtual address, Modi said on Friday that people who took power by force might dominate for some time but not forever amid the Afghanistan crisis. Taliban captured the country around five days ago after the Afghan president fled and US troops withdrew.
Though the message highlights the Indian stand against the warlord rulers, the country has decided to play their innings on the back foot. However, other competitive nations are hitting the ball on the front foot. Both China and Russia have engaged with the Taliban government.
Neighbour Iran had already engaged with the Taliban. Iran along with China and Russia cautioned them against lending their soil for spreading terrorism in the region. Pakistan PM Imran Khan has gone on record praising the forceful power takeover.
India, on the other hand, is creating a space for China to capture. It will shrink Indian influence in the region considerably and will elevate Pakistan due Pak-Chin bonhomie. China has considerable influence in the region, with its economic diplomacy.
India has to salvage as much it can amid the Afghanistan crisis
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has said that India will continue their historic relation with Afghanistan. Contrarily India has withdrawn its embassy in Kabul and brought back its ambassador, citing safety reasons. Many former foreign secretaries like Krishna Srinivasan had criticized the move on national media.
“We should not run away as Afghans never liked people who run away. It does not put a good impression on us,” Subir Bhaumik said, author of five books on South Asian conflicts. He also said that India has no reason to run away as they have never engaged in a war on Afghan soil. “We did not fight a war over there like Americans. Why should we run away,” he added.
By no means, Taliban seizure of power in Afghanistan has blocked Indian relations with the nation. “If we think that we have lost the game and are running away, it is not befitting India’s stature as the power of the region. Already a silent outreach is made to them, but India should formally exercise the outreach,” Bhaumik said.
America has miscalculated the situation in Afghanistan. “We Indians have put all our eggs in the American basket. If Taliban are sending broad messages, we should also respond to them,” the author of Troubled Periphery: The Crisis of India’s North East has said.
Afghanistan Crisis: India Should Strike A Deal
According to the author, India should strike a deal with the Taliban as China and Russia did if they state that they will not back jihadis in Kashmir. “I am told that Taliban is willing to recognize Kashmir as an internal problem,” he said adding, “Believe me, 80,000 Taliban fighters cannot run Afghanistan. Right now, the Taliban won’t pick a fight with any major regional power. They have to now focus on consolidating their grip on Afghanistan.”
There is a weak tradition of accepting the central authority in Afghanistan, according to the author. Warlords and tribal leaders are there, and they will resist the Taliban as they did around 20 years back.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s self-proclaimed caretaker president Amrullah Saleh has said that ‘Afghanistan is too big for Pakistan to swallow and Taliban to rule.’ Saleh, who is reported to be in Panjshir Valley, the only province free from Taliban grip, is trying to forge a resistance force with former Northern Alliance members and anti-Taliban leaders under Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud. Two suicide bombers reportedly sent by the Taliban killed Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Afghanistan crisis and China’s potential extension of economic diplomacy
America has frozen Afghan government reserves in the American bank accounts to cut Taliban access. According to the IMF, the federal reserves are worth $9 billion. This move will force the Taliban to look for an alternative source to run Afghanistan, one of the poorest war-ravaged countries in the world. Most probably, they will turn to China as other European nations, including the EU, the UK has denied recognizing the Taliban government.
This move will further increase their influence after providing financial aids to India’s strategic neighbors: Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Chinese have allegedly divested around $460 million as loans to Bangladesh as part of the aid in the first half of the last fiscal year.
Taking this opportunity, India should continue their investment in a bid to maintain its regional supremacy. “Indian projects are popular among Afghanis and the country should complete them. They have already chipped in around $3 billion in about 500 popular infrastructural development projects,” the author said. More so after the Taliban has asked the Indian government to finish the project.
Taliban wanted to deal with China, China responded, India Should Also Respond
Much to India’s dismay, the Chinese had stolen a march on us by meeting with the Taliban. “In Tianjin, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met a powerful Taliban delegation. And the deal is going on now,” he said on China as a growing superpower of the region.
It is no secret that Pakistan does not share good relations with America and will go to any extent to help establish Taliban-China diplomatic relations.
The US is one of India’s prime allies. After the US fallout from the power of influence in Afghanistan and China rapidly advancing to fill that gap, India needs to consider their stand against the terror group. “In the past, India did take a diplomatic stand by talking with military rulers of Myanmar. It is downright silly for India to make such a statement of not recognizing the Taliban rule at this stage even if they are terrorists,” he said.