by Brig Arun Bajpai

LET there be no doubt that US wants to leave Afghanistan at any cost. Current American President Trump had given his election promise to American people way back in 2016 that he will bring back these troops from Afghanistan, so he cannot be faulted. Besides US is looking after its national interest and wants to bring back its troops involved in an endless war in Afghanistan which has already lasted more than 17 years and for which America has paid a heavy price both in men and material. Now time has also come for India to start looking after its own national interests instead of being dependent on crutches of others.

Today Taliban occupies almost half of Afghanistan and it is a pure proxy of Pakistan who has trained and equipped it to a large extent.US may have been tough on Pakistan but in the final analysis it had to finally turn to Pakistan to bring Taliban on negotiating table. It dangled 6 billion-dollar IMF loan to a cash starved Pakistan to get Taliban on negotiating table in Doha in Qatar. Mulla Biradar of Taliban, its chief negotiator, the other day spoke to American president Donal Trump himself after conclusion of US-Taliban Peace Treaty, describing everything as hunky dory. Even before ink could get dry on this treaty, Taliban just a few days back attacked four Afghan Army Check Posts, killing 21 soldiers of Afghan Army. Plea that Taliban has offered is that this treaty is with US and foreign troops on whom Taliban will launch no attacks, this peace deal does not cover Afghan army. Needless to say, that depending on any treaty or deal signed with a terror organisation like Taliban, whose deputy is Haqqani a thorough bred jihadi, is out right foolishness. Actually, this attack on Afghan Army posts were launched by Taliban after refusal of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that America is no body to decide that Afghan Army will release 5,000 Taliban prisoners which they have captured in so many ground skirmishes while Taliban will release 1000 of Afghan Army prisoners. This was part of this peace deal as confidence building measure.

As per this peace treaty US was to bring back from Afghanistan all its fifteen thousand troops in fourteen months’ time. Meanwhile an intra afghan dialogue between Taliban and Afghan government was to start from 10 March in order to decide the power sharing. It is common knowledge that once all US troops will be out from Afghanistan it will hardly take any time for Taliban to acquire complete control of Afghanistan. In other words, Taliban will be in full control of Afghanistan in about two years’ time. Once in control of Afghanistan then these Taliban terrorists will need an occupation because with their illiteracy they know nothing else but to wage war. Pakistan is patiently waiting for this opportunity to turn Taliban against India while its own Army twiddles its thumbs. Besides Pakistan will also realise its long-cherished dream of having a strategic depth in Afghanistan in case of war against India.

In all this what are the options for India? US can not be blamed for looking after its own national interests. Next 1.5 to 2 years is all the time that India has to not only formulate its future strategy but also act on it. India will be facing a combined threat of Pakistan, China and Taliban controlled Afghanistan. Unlike pre 2000 days when India along with Russia and Iran had fully supported Northern Alliance in Afghanistan comprising of 50% of Afghan population of Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek people. Now with Iran acting funny with India and Russia due to it getting closer ties with China, not very dependable, leaves India isolated against Taliban. So, if India has to save its good will that it has generated in Afghanistan due to its genuine work and investment of almost 3 billion dollars in all these years it has to think something out of box. India has limited time now to enhance its military power to match this combined threat of China, Pakistan and Taliban. At the same time, it should shed its image of being a good boy and go all out to break Pakistan by covert action. Baluchistan and Sind provinces of Pakistan are low hanging fruits which we must pluck. If necessary, India should on its own support Northern Alliance with almost 50% population in its favour. India may also go out and support the Concept of greater Pashtunistan by including large territory of Pakistan. This will be very acceptable to Pashtun Taliban.

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same