Launched by America, the war in Afghanistan is at a turning point. People born after September 11, 2001, are now being deployed there. Peace negotiations continue, but with little impact.
Yet, there is one question that has not been answered: What is to be the future of India in the region?
India has played a considerable part in the future of Afghanistan. Many Afghani people watch Bollywood movie. India was the first country to send in construction workers following the 2001 Invasion. The Mughal Empire originated in Kabul, and while many Afghani’s consider the United States to be imperialist country, as they had viewed the Soviet Union, they consider India to be a brother.
But, little has been done on India’s part other than these symbolic gestures. The country has seen what fighting in Afghanistan has done to the British, the Russians, the Americans, and others. Yet India is still interested in the long-term future of Afghanistan, as it relates to their larger cold-war with Pakistan that since resulted in 4 direct wars between the two states and the standoffs that have flared up routinely since September 11, 2001.
But now the Americans are considering pulling out. But Afghanistan is far from perfect, and the simple truth of the matter is is that the United States has no real concerns for the long-term future of Afghanistan. The United States concern is fighting terrorism, nothing more. India, however, does. And so does India’s arch rival, Pakistan.
When, in 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Pakistani government was one of the big three founders of the Afghan Mujaheddin, the United States and Saudi Arabia being the other two. Each of the three nations was involved in Afghanistan for different reasons, and they often clashed. For Pakistan, it was to prevent Soviet-allied India from using Afghanistan as a base to launch a two-front war against Pakistan. After the Soviet Union left Afghanistan and the Communist government of Afghanistan in 1992, Pakistan created the Taliban and intervened in the Afghan Civil War to further their agenda.
Although the Pakistani government backed the United States following 9/11 and has co-operated with the United States by a fighting a war against the Taliban of it’s own since 2004, geopolitical circumstances still favor a Pakistan-Taliban alliance, something that the ISI has most certainly tried to fulfill, such as airlifting several top Taliban officials out of Kunduz before the city fell to the Advancing American forces, and the fact that Osama Bin Laden was conveniently found next to the main Pakistani military training academy in a secure compound.
With the Americans gone and no one to take their place, it could enable the Pakistanis to return Afghanistan under their sphere of Influence.
This means that India is at a moment that will decide it’s future standing in the world. India is already taking the lead in the effort to contain the growing power of the Chinese. They are undertaking efforts to be the next great manufacturing powerhouse, and they have already spent so much effort into ensuring the long-term future of the Afghan people. India may very well be the only nation that can defeat the Taliban. They have the numbers, the war machine, the commitment, and they are not seen as outside intruders by mainstream Afghani society.
India has a choice to make. It can take America’s current role in Afghanistan or it can do nothing. Whatever choice it makes, India will live with the consequences.