WHAT Afghanistan President Mr. Ashraf Ghani described as an ‘abrupt’ withdrawal of American troops leading to the current chaotic security situation in that country, has a strong element of reality. Considerable numbers of international observers will agree with Mr. Ghani that the withdrawal of the United States troops took place at an inopportune moment, giving the terrorists a good ground to mount a frontal attack on the Government forces and installations. It is only natural for any State trapped in such a situation to think of a larger strategy to ensure internal security appropriately. The six-month security plan of the Afghanistan Government, thus, fits the situational requirement correctly. The question is if the situation can be controlled in six months, or that period will stretch for a longer duration.
That detail apart, it must be said that the Afghanistan Government is following in the best possible manner what it must in such a situation. It is bracing up to tackle the unsavoury Taliban challenge in a no-nonsense manner, in the process earning much appreciation in the international community. It is obvious that Afghanistan is in for a continued internal disturbance -- aided and abetted by foreign powers such as Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States that has yet not delinked itself entirely from the issue. There is every reason to suspect that none of these powers is interested in whatsoever manner to help Afghanistan to settle its internal attrition in a lasting manner. This has been the history of Afghanistan in the past fifty years, and this threatens to be its fate in the next few years. Such a meddling by foreign powers has often muddied the international waters for long, and that process threatens to become all the more pronounced in Afghanistan in the next few years.
Though it appears to be an outsider in the current condition, having withdrawn from Afghanistan wisely in right time, India appears to be the only sane voice in the neighbourhood with a stable and settled consideration of the multiple dimensions of the issue on the boil. Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar is on record insisting upon the question of legitimacy -- thus hinting that the Taliban is only an illegitimate player. It is not fathomable at this stage if India will ever lend military assistance to the Ashraf Ghani regime in Afghanistan. But if such a decision is at all taken, then it will not be without substantial reasons of international propriety and diplomatic consideration. Factually speaking, what Afghanistan needs at this stage is a solid international support to wipe clean the terrorist Taliban whose intentions have a terrible gory tinge. The Taliban may have had at some point in time felt that it was its business to wrest power in Kabul. But its ways and means were steeped in illegitimacy, and therefore cannot be supported by any nation like India. Occasionally, India may have practised a Track-II diplomacy with Taliban for strategic choices. But New Delhi’s overall approach has been absolutely positive and dismissive of Taliban as a legitimate player in Afghan affairs. That was the reason why India expended massive resources to help Afghanistan in its task of national reconstruction. And, to be sure, all that activity was in the category of non-reciprocal assistance, often stated by Dr. Jaishankar. The world can see the vast difference between the Indian approach and as against the approach of most other countries vis-a-vis Afghanistan -- in this particular case.
When a country is tormented so badly by terrorism and violence for so long a period, it does not need any international dabbling. On the contrary, it needs solid international support to put out terrorist flames lapping up the country. In fact, the Afghan situation may offer India an opportunity to establish itself as a tipping point in the international game others are playing, should India decide to play its own sensible part -- beyond localised power politics. That will, of course, be a tough call for New Delhi, to say the least. Yet, enough indications are available to believe that India cannot erase such a possibility in the future, if the troubles in Afghanistan continue beyond a sensible point.