INDIA TO HOST SECURITY DIALOGUE ON AFGHANISTAN
India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, ahead of the NSA-level dialogue that will be hosted by India on Afghanistan on November 10, 2021. The 'Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan' will witness participation from the National Security Advisors of 7 countries including Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The participating NSA's will also jointly call upon Indian PM Narendra Modi. India had invited Pakistan and China as well to participate in the meeting but Pakistan has indicated through the media that it will not attend. China has informed that it would be unable to attend due to a scheduling issue but it is open for dialogue with India on Afghanistan multilaterally and bilaterally. Pakistan has not attended any of the previous meetings of this format. Earlier Iran hosted meetings in a similar format in 2018 & 2019, Pakistan didn't attend any of the meetings. China did participate in the earlier meetings. As a matter of practice, India invited Pak to the Delhi-NSA meeting, but it’s unfortunate they refused to attend it.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MEETING
The NSA-level meeting will be the first-of-its-kind dialogue to be hosted by India on Afghanistan. This would also be the first time that all central Asian countries will be participating in this format and not just Afghanistan’s immediate land neighbours. Further, none of the participating eight countries including India recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan. India had also said earlier that it does not recognize it, which is why it has not invited the Taliban for the dialogue, said sources. None of the eight countries (including India) recognize or legitimize the Taliban government. India also doesn't recognize it, which is why it has not invited Afghanistan to the dialogue.
ABOUT THE MEETING
- Invited Participants: India’s top security establishment, the National Security Council Secretariat, has taken the lead in organising the in-person meeting. Invitations were sent to Afghanistan’s neighbours such as Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and other key players including Russia, and China.
- Need: After the withdrawal of US forces and the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, India is concerned about security in the region.
- Objective: In this context, India has taken this initiative to organise a conference of regional stakeholders and important powers on the country’s current situation and future outlook.
- India’s Interest: This meeting could be India’s attempt to secure for itself a seat at the table to decide the future course of action on Afghanistan. The meeting also reflects the need to actively engage with the world to protect India’s security interests.
- Participants’ Response: The Central Asian countries, as well as Russia and Iran, have confirmed participation. The enthusiastic response is a manifestation of the importance attached to India’s role in regional efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan.
- Pakistan and China’s Denial: Pakistan’s National Security Advisor has held that he would not attend the meeting. China has also decided to skip a regional security meeting due to scheduling difficulties, but is open to maintaining discussions with India through bilateral channels. India is of the view that the denial by Pakistan to attend this meeting reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate.
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARIAT
- India formed a National Security Council (NSC) in 1999, where all aspects of national security are deliberated upon by it. NSC acts as the apex body, headed by the Prime Minister. NSC comprises the three-tier structure- Strategic Policy Group (SPG), the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and the National Security Council Secretariat. The Ministers of Home Affairs, Defence, External Affairs and Finance are its members and the National Security Adviser acts as its Secretary.
- India’s Stakes in Afghanistan: Strategic Advantage: India’s strategy in Afghanistan is guided by the desire to prevent a government that would readily provide Pakistan with strategic depth and a safe haven for terror groups.
- Deploying Soft Power: India has opted to pursue a ‘soft power’ strategy to engage Afghanistan, preferring to contribute substantially in the civilian sector rather than in defence and security.
- Developmental Projects: India is particularly active in the construction, infrastructure, human capital building and mining sectors. Besides, it has also identified the telecommunications, health, pharmaceuticals, and information technology and education sectors for cooperation.
- Economic Aid: Within the framework of two bilateral agreements, India has pledged over USD 2 billion in aid to Afghanistan. And, by the end of the year 2017, the investment has already crossed USD 3 billion. This makes India one of the largest investors in Afghanistan’s stability and the quest for economic and social development.
- Connectivity Projects: India has also agreed to build the 600-km-long Bamiyan – Herat rail link which will serve to connect the Hajigak mines to Herat. Further, India is developing the Iranian port of Chabahar which will be linked to Afghanistan via the Delaram-Zaranj highway. If peace is established in Afghanistan, it could become a major trading hub as a corridor of connectivity in the heart of Asia.
INDIA'S VIEWPOINT ON AFGHANISTAN:
India is not ready to directly deal with the new Taliban dispensation in Afghanistan.
India reiterates that Afghanistan should:
- Not allow safe havens for terror on its soil.
- The administration should be inclusive.
- The rights of minorities, women, and children must be protected.
- The Afghanistan peace process should be led, owned and controlled by the Afghan people.
- Russian Support: Russia has cultivated links with the Taliban in recent years. India would need Russia’s support in any form of direct engagement with the Taliban.
- Bonhomie with China: India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan.
- Engaging with Taliban: Talking to the Taliban would allow India to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance or other pledges as well as explore the possibility of the Taliban’s autonomy from Pakistan.
Kabul has fallen! Afghanistan government collapsed on August 15, 2021 after Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikistan and Afghan military troops surrendered the capital city, Kabul. Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar has become the new President of Afghanistan. Ghani said in a statement after his escape, "In order to avoid the bloodshed, I thought it was best to get out." This was followed by complete chaos in Kabul with shots sounding in the Kabul airport amidst efforts by other countries to evacuate their citizens from Afghanistan. Civilians were seen fleeing Kabul the moment it became clear that the Taliban is taking over the capital. India also started the process of evacuation of its nationals from Afghanistan with Air India flight AI-243 taking off from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport for Kabul on the morning of August 15th. The flight returned without 129 stranded passengers. Nations such as the US, UK, Germany and Canada are using their troops to evacuate their nationals from Afghanistan. The US Embassy in Kabul has suspended all operations and told Americans to take shelter in the place.
WHO IS ABDUL GHANI BARADAR?
Abdul Ghani Baradar is the co-founder of the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was the deputy of Mullah Mohammed Omar. While Haibatullah Akhundzada is the Taliban’s overall leader, Baradar is the political chief and most public face. He had been captured in Pakistan by a team of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers in February 2010. He was released at the request of the United States three years ago on October 24, 2018. Baradar has not only emerged as a victor of Afghanistan's 20-year war but his return to power embodies Afghanistan’s inability to escape the bloody shackles of its past. Baradar was born in Uruzgan province in 1968 and raised in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. He had served the Afghan mujahideen during the war against the Soviet-backed Afghan government in the 1980s. The Russians were driven out in 1992. He helped his former commander and brother-in-law Mohammad Omar found the Taliban in southern Afghanistan in 1994. Baradar had played various military and administrative roles in the five-year regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was deputy minister of defence when the Taliban was ousted by the US and its Afghan allies.
WHO ARE THE TALIBAN: The Taliban is a Deobandi Islamist movement, which is led by young Islamic scholars who are dedicated to the religious purification of the country and the creation of an emirate. Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada is reportedly the leader of the Taliban since 2016.
Q.1 Which of the following in the upcoming days is going to host the 'Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan' (NSA level dialogue)?
- Tashkent, Uzbekistan
- Tehran, Iran
- Islamabad, Pakistan
- New Delhi, India: ANSWER
Q.2 Which of the following is India's National Security Advisor who is going to attend the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan?
- Ajit Doval: ANSWER
- Harshvardhan Shringla
- Ajay Kumar
- None of the following
Q.3 With the reference to the Taliban Organisation & their international relations, which of the following statements is/are incorrect?
- Only three countries recognised the Taliban while they were in power namely, Pakistan, United States of America and Saudi Arabia.
- Pakistan officially broke off diplomatic ties with the organisation after 9/11. However, many top leaders of the Taliban are said to have escaped to Quetta in Pakistan, from where they were controlling the organisation.
- In December 2001, by removing the Taliban in power, a new interim government was placed in Afghanistan headed by Ashraf Ghani.
- I & II follows
- Only II follows
- I & III follows: ANSWER
- None of the following
Q.4 Which of the following statements is/are correct in the reference to the Indian relationship shared with Taliban?
- India has never recognised the Taliban while they were in power.
- Following the backdrop of the peace talks between the United States and the Taliban in 2019, the Taliban has sought positive relations with India.
- The Taliban have reiterated Kashmir is an internal matter for India and will not seek to interfere in the matters of other nations.
- I & III follows
- II & III follows
- Only III follows
- All of the above: ANSWER
Q.5 Which of the following is the ideology followed by the Taliban insurgent group?
- Deobandi Islamism
- Both A and B: ANSWER
- None of the above