With the rampaging Taliban having captured Kandahar and Herat, Afghanistan’s second and third largest cities, the trouble-torn country has plunged deeper into chaos. The ongoing withdrawal of US troops — the drawdown deadline is August 31 — has left the Afghan government to fend for itself, opening the floodgates for the militants to run riot. A bloody power struggle and a humanitarian crisis have ravaged Afghanistan, even as the world is struggling to come to grips with the fast-deteriorating situation. At the Qatar conclave on Thursday, 12 nations, including the US, India and China, along with representatives of the UN and EU, agreed that the peace process needed to be accelerated and decided not to recognise any government imposed through military force. Notwithstanding this consensus, various countries are preferring to watch their own interests first amid the mayhem in Afghanistan. It’s worrying that the international community is not doing enough on the ground to end the violence that is claiming hundreds of lives every day.
According to a US military intelligence assessment, the Taliban could gain full control of the country in a few months. The developments leave no room for doubt that the Taliban will remain a decisive player in the scheme of things. India, which has invested $3 billion in projects aimed at rebuilding Afghanistan over the past two decades, has repeatedly said that it is in touch with various stakeholders. New Delhi’s contingency plan ought to include negotiations with the Taliban so that all the good work — infrastructure development and financial assistance in healthcare, education, transport and power sectors — doesn’t come to naught.
Of grave concern to India are the reports of Pakistan’s continued support to the Taliban and the influx of terrorists into Afghanistan from that country. India’s strategic interests in Afghanistan will be under threat as long as Pakistan keeps providing logistical and tactical aid to the militant outfit. New Delhi must spearhead global efforts to expose Islamabad’s nefarious designs. India, which holds the UN Security Council presidency for August, should also take the lead in administering the healing touch to the battered and bruised Afghan citizens.