Divergence of US-India Interests in Afghanistan
The US has spent over trillion Dollars over a period of two decades, utilized forces from 46-allied countries, at peak time involved up to 200,000 troops, utilized the “Beautiful Weapons” worth billions of dollars, most lethal weapons, latest & advance technologies, and most modern tactics, but could not win the War.
Finally accepted its defeat and surrendered to the Taliban and signed a peace deal to open ways for US-Troops withdrawal with safety, dignity, and honor. The Peace Deal may serve only “Face Saving” cover.
In fact, previous US administrations of Obama, and Clinton were also of the opinion to withdraw troops from Afghanistan but failed as the Military leadership was not convinced. However, President Trump is a hardliner leader and well-known for his unpopular decisions that may benefit from this deal in his up-coming Presidential Elections to be held in November this year.
NATO and other Allies were already non-supportive to the US in the Afghan war, and the US economy was also not in a good shape to sustain heavy expenditures alone. The Troops were also tired of and facing mental health issues in addition to killings, injuries and being captured by the Taliban. Ultimately, the US-Troops have to be withdrawn. The US may wind up its overseas operations from Afghanistan, Syria, etc., and consolidate its efforts and energies against China and Russia.
The US administrations were supporting the Afghan Government of Karzai and Ashraf Ghani to the maximum extent, but could not achieve any positive results on the ground. They tried to support Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and other groups in Afghanistan but failed to achieve the desired results. They realized that the real pillars of power in Afghanistan, are the Taliban only.
The US initiated to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban directly, under close cooperation with Pakistan. Pakistan’s role was limited to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table only. Negotiation with the Taliban meant the recognition of the Taliban. Sirajuudin Haqqani considered the most dangerous Taliban, become a hero and his article published in mainstream media in the US. The US administration was exerting huge pressure to take action against the Haqqani network and demanding “Do More” for many years, now considers Haqqani as “Hero”.
Taliban signed the fragile peace deal under immense pressure, taking this opportunity to get rid of US troops from Afghanistan. They know very well that the deal is not fair as they were not given the due share in Afghan politics. The US is working closely with Ashraf Ghani for a long time, maybe comfortable in troop’s withdrawal under his administration.
Americans are happy for safe withdrawal and the Taliban are happy temporarily. After the US withdrawal, the actual power struggle may be launched to gain control over Afghanistan. Bloodshed may be inevitable initially, but once either one party among Afghanis grabs the power, it may pave ways for stable and Afghanistan. In the recent history of Afghanistan Taliban era from 1996-2001, was the most stable time for Afghanistan.
Any power struggle among various Afghan factions, may not face any foreign interference, will lead to lessening the bloodshed and quick establishment of stable and strong Government. Neighboring countries like; Tajikistan, Pakistan, Iran, and China will not interfere in the domestic power struggle. As a stable Afghanistan is pre-requisite for regional peace, stability, and prosperity.
The whole region wishes for stable and strong Afghanistan. But afraid, Israel and India might play a dirty role, as unstable Afghanistan suits them, where they can manipulate unstable Afghanistan for their evil designs against neighboring countries.
The US wanted India to play a major role in Afghanistan by sending its troops and actively involved in combat. While India was hesitant as they know very well, the Afghans ruled India for many centuries, cannot be defeated. India has no land contact with India, nor any cultural, religious or ethnic commonality. India finds itself as alien in Afghanistan. In fact, India is more interested in getting projects in Afghanistan and wanted to be involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, funded by International Institutions or foreign countries. India wanted to get economic benefits. It also wants to strengthen its proxy war against Pakistan. It is worth mentioning that, India maintains 7 Consulates along the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan has sufficient evidence of Indian cross-border terrorism inside Pakistan from Afghanistan.
President Trump has expressed his anger on the Indian role in Afghanistan and dis-satisfied with building a library by India in Kabul. He was of the opinion that in the war-torn country, there may not be any beneficiary. He expects Indian troops in Afghanistan.
No doubt that India is biggest beneficiary of US assistance, either Economic, Defense, Education, S&T, Political or Diplomatic support, but in return, the US might have some expectations from India too. Divergence of interests in Afghanistan may lead to US-India relations a set-back.
Big countries like Russia, China, the US, and the EU, may involve in bringing Peace in Afghanistan after US withdrawal. UN and International Institutions may also play a positive role in bringing a durable, sustainable and solid peace in Afghanistan, it may turn into global peace and stability in the longer run. At least, a stable Afghanistan is pre-requisite for regional prosperity. We should not miss this opportunity and make our dreams turn true.