India’s Afghanistan Policy needs to keep in view the increasing closeness of Taliban with China. The need of the hour is to increase engagement while keeping in mind its core issues. Elaborate.

The return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan has raised some difficult questions for foreign policy makers.

Important strategic goals in region:

  • Regional peace and mutual non-aggression, i.e., the new regime shouldn’t try to create new conflicts in region.
  • Afghanistan must not be used as safe-heaven for terrorists.
  • Promote regional trade, connectivity and contact – access to central Asia.
  • Protect human rights especially of vulnerable sections, i.e. women, elderly, children.

India’s response:

  • Dynamism – From no-communication to conditional talks with Taliban subject to their commitment to respecting human rights of Afghans. India has denied recognition to Taliban regime, to force it to mend its policies.
  • Global cooperation – Recent NSA level talks and Delhi Declaration showed cooperation. Even US denying recognition to Taliban.
  • Calling out Pakistan for its hypocrisy.
  • Providing humanitarian aid to Afghans. Accepting Afghan refugees.
  • Contributing key projects like Chabahar port in the hope of future benefits.

This is essential when Taliban is seen to be getting closer to China and Pakistan and terror activities are picking up in Kashmir. India must try to find the opportunities to engage with Taliban outside the frame of reference of Pakistan and without giving up on its core issues.

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