India`s engagement with the Taliban

Since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, India has considered the Taliban as a terrorist group and a puppet of the Pakistani military, but India’s policy towards the group appears to have changed dramatically.

For the first time India has opened a channel for talks with some members of the Taliban leadership, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy political chief and peace chief negotiator in Doha.

In early June this year, Hindustan times reported that Indian security agencies had established preliminary contacts with Mullah Baradar and members of the Taliban leadership. The move has been described as a fundamental shift in India’s attitude towards the Afghan Taliban.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is one of the two founders of the Taliban movement and has spent several years in prison in Pakistan.

In the past, India supported the Northern Alliance, an anti-Taliban movement in Afghanistan.  Indian officials have said they are not talking to the Haqqani network or members of the Quetta Taliban council (Shura), as the proxies of the Pakistani military.

The Haqqani Network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, is officially part of the Taliban, which has independently carried out some of the most horrific operations in Afghanistan. Anas Haqqani is representing the Haqqani network in the Taliban negotiating team in Doha.

After the signing of so-called peace deal between the United Stated States and the Taliban, India as an ally of the United States in the region, has been forced to establish contact with the Taliban; the group which India long recognized as a Pakistani proxies. India is one of the countries that closed its embassy in Kabul. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, India was the first country to reopen its embassy and open consulates in several provinces after the overthrow of the group.

So what is behind the India`s desire to make contribution with the Taliban?

Many in India and the region believe that India forced to contact the Taliban to maintain its security and national interests.

During the Taliban regime In Afghanistan, New Delhi paid the high level of humanitarian and political price, because it had not ties to the Taliban. In December 1999, five gunmen affiliated with the Pakistan-based Harakatul-Mujahideen Movement hijacked an Indian passenger plane was flying from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to New Delh with 189-passenger on board, the hijackers after temporary landing in several countries, including the UAE, Pakistan and Oman, finally managed to land the plane in Kandahar province in Afghanistan.

At the time, India, alongside Russia and Iran simultaneously supported the northern ally against the Taliban and had no ties to the Taliban. India was forced to enter into a dangerous political deal to release the hostages.

India has released three dangerous Pakistani terrorists including Masoud Azhar from prison, whom after according to New Delhi, plotted the terrorist attacks in India including the Mumbai attack and several other Indian cities.

Political analysts in India like Avinash Paliwal have encouraged the government of India to establish diplomatic relations with the Taliban. Although the separation of the Taliban from Pakistan is impossible, India has done an important job if it can mobilize part of the group against Pakistan.

Last year, Zalmai Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, suggested that India raise its concerns directly with the Taliban.

In a letter sent to President Ghani a few months ago by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin, All countries in the region, including India, was asked to take part in the Afghan peace process. New Delhi has stated that it is ready to play a vital role in the Afghan peace process.

India has been one of the largest contributors to Afghanistan’s reconstruction, providing about $ 3 billion over the past two decades.

India’s policy has always been to support the Afghan government and democracy in the country and strongly oppose the Taliban’s return to power, and is concerned about the Taliban’s links to al-Qaeda.

Following the international forces withdrawing from Afghanistan by 9/11, India is worried about future scenarios for the Taliban to return to power or a possible civil war.

India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also underlined the importance of the peace negotiations in Afghanistan. 

Today Minister S Jaishankar also said in Upper house that during the meeting with his US counterpart that they are agreed to corporate in peace process in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says New Delhi and Washington are opposed to taking power militarily in Afghanistan.