Fall of Kabul: A Gain to Islamabad And Caution for New Delhi

History Repeats Itself and for Afghanistan history repeated itself after 20 years when Taliban took over Afghanistan and marked the fall of democratically elected Ghani’s government.  Now a major question or anticipations which haunts the global order is the how pack of terror groups will mark their presence in Afghanistan in Taliban rule and how the wave of terrorism is going to flow.

The Two Players of South Asia

This critical geopolitical development will indirectly or directly have rippling effects on two arch rivals New Delhi and Islamabad.  The effect will be like that one would be on caution side and one would be on gain side. Amidst these two players there is one more major player who sees reward in Afghanistan- China. Moreover, Russia is also keeping a closed view or only regional specific view over Afghanistan and hinted possibilities of keeping ties with Taliban. Once things get settled and Kabul transits into Taliban era the stakes of everyone would automatically start to function and when they start to bat their respective interests, the interactions of those stakeholders/countries with this reformed Taliban group is worth to observe and especially its effects in Asian Region. But as of now an anticipation of not worrying or casually setting an approach towards Kabul just on the pretext that this time Taliban have sophistically presented themselves in power transit process would be wrong. Some central values that majorly governed by fundamentalist and extremists view of Taliban will show its colors in coming time. On the other hand, the takeover would be a confidence builder to Al Qaeda, ISIS who are dreaming for Islamic Caliphate. However, in any case some of the highly speculated threats and gains would be possible to both former and later in coming time.

New Delhi’s Caution and Islamabad Gain.

Taliban take over would prove a chance for Islamabad to develop their strategic intellect against India in both unconventional and conventional wars. As history speaks that in past Islamabad had cultivated covert relations with Taliban and this time Islamabad would not leave any stone unturn in reviving those relations. Islamabad has strategic depth policy towards Afghanistan this policy was mostly in defunct state till the Kabul was stable and Ghani was there though several attempts were made but mostly they were unsuccessful as New Delhi has smartly through its developmental approach kept Islamabad’s influence at bay but now tables seems to be turned as Taliban taking stage would kick start Islamabad’s strategic depth policy. In actual Islamabad does not treat it as mere policy construct but as a big military strategy against India.  This strategy has two-fold, one can be studied conventionally second can be unconventionally.   In conventional way in event of war between India and Pakistan or any aggressive escalation in such situations Pakistan would have an option to fall back towards Afghanistan regroup and then organize a counter offensive against India this would lessen the chances of damage or getting disorganize and Pakistan can easily avail resources and strategize the course of war. This ultimately increases Pakistan’s rate of survival in war and give them chance to rally from Afghanistan. Now the unconventional side it is well understood fact that Pakistan uses terrorism as an instrument against India. In this strategy Pakistan would now be using Afghanistan as territorial pawn against India by shifting the terror bases around Durand lines or in interior regions of Afghanistan by  mobilizing terror groups etc. In short Pakistan would get a chance to revamp its  terror modules and make it more effective by waging terrorism in more indirect ways (via Afghanistan) than earlier. The first target would be Union Territory J&K. Pakistan would try every possible means via Afghanistan to ignite trouble and create disturbance in the J&K. Like it used to do in early 90s where the violence and terror was at its peak in the valley. However, there is one roadblock or a double edge sword that Pakistan might face is that keeping up the relations with Taliban. The Tehreek E Taliban (TTP) which is operating inside Pakistan is all out against the Pakistan’s regime and in counter response Pakistan Military and ISI had started a National Action Plan which involved heavy military crackdown against TTP. This made some sect of Taliban unhappy with this posture of Pakistan. Moreover, this strategic depth strategy would also give Pakistan a diplomatic advantage by giving Pakistan space to exercise its influence in central Asian market and to Central Asian countries against India this goes for China as well.  Therefore, given the TTP apprehension for Pakistan there are high chances of frictions with Pakistan. Neither we have assertion on concrete basis that relation with Afghan Taliban and ISI would flourish well in coming time nor we have concrete assertion that how much Islamabad would hold or sustain on its Strategic Depth Strategy in near future. However whatever may be the case  New Delhi cannot outrightly ignore the possible red flags associated with ISI and Taliban or threat which may rise in coming time because possibilities are high and this is something which may be called as hidden truth which will somehow comes out in coming time.

Options For New Delhi At Present Stage

New Delhi maintained its position of rejecting Taliban’s objectives of making Afghanistan a Islamic Emirates and also rejected for recognizing a government or power which have taken over by force. For New Delhi given the present situation must exercise caution and carefully observe all the political and non-political activities taking place in Afghanistan right now even observe the influence of Pakistan which may have began in the power corridors of Taliban. From security and Intelligence point of view any hasty steps would complicate New Delhi’s both situation and options in Afghanistan and further harm communications/ Influence and assets in Afghanistan. Perhaps, ISI would want New Delhi to take any steps in panic which would contribute in shrinking New Delhi’s footprints in Afghanistan. It is very important right now for New Delhi to maintain its footprints in Afghanistan and not letting ISI take any tactical advantage at this stage. Alert, Observe and Response should be three golden rules right now for New Delhi. On the other hand, MEA should make every possible attempt to evacuate its citizens in distress or who wish to return and closely monitor its Embassy/ Consulates in Afghanistan. These are some primary working towards Kabul and rest as said observing and monitoring the situation in Afghanistan is key as it would give some inputs to New Delhi and help to build a strategic foresight on how things will proceed in Afghanistan and what all steps would be feasible to take in coming time.

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