This is an IDF analysis based on William Darlymple’s essay for Brookings titled, A DEADLY TRIANGLE, on the War in Afghanistan and it’s aftermath as he has included extracts from his outstanding book on Afghan wars.
IDF’s concentrates the chapter, “The hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan”, and adds, Pakistan’s quest for Kashmir and how it seeks parity with India.
Both nations have fought wars and talked solutions for the Line of Control(LOC), but the Indian leadership would be voted out if it gave an inch. Yet it seems, China has eked a solution on the Line of Actual Control(LAC 1959 line) with buffer zones, and now will concentrate on CPEC, Indian Ocean Region’s Maritime Game(IORMG) and Afghanistan.
Will, as he said to address him, when one argued with him over a drink in Chandigarh Litfest, that the 1857 Mutiny he researched began in a Rajasthan village with Chappatis. Darlymple agreed to look into it, and explains the drivers in Afghanistan are the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba(LET Army of the Righteous), who take orders and support from the Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI), which is a secret arm of Pakistan’s military, funded for dirty tricks, and attacks on India he has listed.
This modus operandi by ISI is also portrayed in the book Spy War Stories of RAW and ISI by Adrian Levy. However when questioned by Shekhar Gupta for the Print, Levy skirted questions as the many Indian Intelligence Agency officials he names in the book, hosted him for messaging. Darlymple is more than blunt about the past and future of India Pakistan relations and ISI.
India will have to look after the asylum seeking Afghans, Sikhs and Hindus (like the Tibetans) and to support and give them Indian Passports. Gurdwaras may accommodate them and BJP’S Hindutva CAA plan will have a say as Afghans were being given Emergency E Visas. Ambassador Tandon was the first to flee with mission staff, families and ITBP soldiers in a C-17. Now Indians left working in Afghanistan may become targets and India is banking on the USA to help leavers. US as a nation is a good partner as long as the GOING IS GOOD but can dump you(ask Merkel or EU), if things do not go their way. Pakis shrewdly used USA against India and when India put its eggs in
USA’s hands and QUAD, especially for IOR’s maritime future against China, Pakis turned hard right to China which openly looks to India as an enemy after Ladakh.
Afghanistan went into chaos when Taliban moved in to cities except Panjshir and finally Kabul depicted on TV screens as hordes of Afghans, Indians and other foreigners with visas clamoured at the Karzai airport to escape. A email leaked from USA’s Central Command reveals the sweltering US Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar housing thousands of Afghan evacuees awash with loose feces and urine, and a rat infestation.
Taliban is stopping evacuation of qualified Afghan, and has given Biden a 31st August deadline and a type of civil war could emerge between Taliban and anti Taliban forces. President Biden faces intense criticism for failing to secure safe passage and guarantee flights out for thousands of Afghans targeted by the Taliban.
DARLYMPLE recalls the 2010 February attack on the Indian guest houses and other attacks in Afghanistan as overt acts of hostility in the long covert struggle India and Pakistan for more than sixty years over their competing influence in Afghanistan. Blast walls were made for the mission as attacks were sponsored by Pakistan. American officials gave details from phone intercepts revealing the involvement of the ISI.
West views the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the US-NATO-led ISAF versus the Al-Qaida and the Taliban. In reality this has long since ceased. Instead US troops got caught up in a complex war shaped by two pre-existing and overlapping conflicts: one local and internal, the other regional between India and Pakistan.
Within Afghanistan, the war is viewed as a Pashtun rebellion against the others ever since the state assumed its boundaries. President Hamid Karzai’s regime was seen as planted US stooges as he is a Pashtun Green Card Holder, who has empowered other ethnic groups—the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras of the north. The Tajiks, constitute only 27% of the Afghan population, but they made up 70% of the officers in the Afghan army commanding Pashtun soldiers, which collapsed as funds saw corruption and lacked command and control . Powerful US equipment did not help to fight rugged Talban fighters who loved to keep going for 20 years with funds from poppy cultivation and taxes from regions they controlled living on a frugal diet and least marriages. These will be forced by the Taliban with brides looking for husbands, as happened after Mujahedeen defeated the Soviets.
By aligning with the Tajiks of the north against the Pashtuns of the South, the US saw itself making common cause with the forces of secularism against militant Islam to bring about democracy ; which even India’s BJP is debating in some ways. Darlymple concedes a complex civil war has been going on since the 1970s because the Pashtuns feel dominated by their ancestral enemies.
Darylmple writes Pakistan worries about the sanctity of the Durand line and an age-old Pashtun-on-Pashtun element to the conflict which pits Taliban from the Ishaqzai tribe, parts of the Nurzais, Achakzais, and most of the Ghilzais, especially the Hotak and Tokhi Ghilzais, against the more “establishment” Durrani Pashtun tribes: the Barakzais, Popalzais and Alikozais.
William says this indigenous conflict holds possibility of much more dangerous hostility between the two regional powers—both armed with nuclear weapons: India and Pakistan for influence over Afghanistan. Compared to that prolonged and deadly contest, the US and ISAF played a little more than a bit part as India exits leaving the floor for Pakistan and China.
Darymple describes the wars India and Pakistan have fought and says It is easy to understand why Pakistan feels insecure. India’s population (1.3 billion) is eight times that of Pakistan’s (180 million) generating an GDP of $210 billion), but China supports it and is monetizing Pak assets as FM Sitharaman is trying in India to sell Government assets including the air waves. India needs a better economy crippled by policy and Covid.
Interestingly United States is being targeted by the Chinese Communist Party, to view the United States as an unreliable ally based on its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Chinese State Media welcomed Taliban’s Rise in Afghanistan, calling US exit, ‘A US ‘Defeat’ and China will play it cards through Pakistan and hints through Global Times. Both nations will recognise the Taliban Government being formed and do business and extend CPEC and loans for mining rights of lithium and other minerals as USA is leaving Afghanistan quite developed in regions. Other nations will follow as UK has assured $ 1 billion as aid.
INDIA needs to take risks and a strategy to form a combine of Islamic states against Pakistan and connectivity to CAR and ask US to ease sanctions on Iran or Russia wants to move in and mediate.