Role for India in Afghan Peace Process – UPSC GS2

Evolving India’s stance:
  • India’s position in the Afghan Peace process has evolved over the years.
  • There is a subtle shift in New Delhi’s approach towards the Afghan crisis.
  • In the 1990s and 2000s, India constantly opposed any dealings with the Taliban.
  • In 2018 during the time when Russia hosted Afghan and Taliban talks, India had sent a diplomatic delegation to Moscow.
  • During the 9th Heart of Asia Conference in Tajikistan, the External Affairs Minister said that India supports talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
How the countries participating in the Afghan peace process?
  • New Afghan peace process by the Joe Biden administration of the US includes two important proposals:
    • Establishment of a single transition government between the warring parties.
    • UN-led multilateral conference of ambassadors from India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and the US. India has supported this UN-led process.
  • U.S. has signed a deal with the Taliban. Under this, the American troops are scheduled to pull back from Afghanistan by May 1.
  • Participation of Other countries in Afghan peace process:
    • China had communicated with the Taliban long ago.
    • Russia has hosted several rounds of talks with the Taliban.
    • European powers have also shown interest in funding talks.
  • Participation of India: The inaugural session of Intra-Afghan peace talks occurred in Doha in September 2020. The External Affairs Minister was present at the inaugural session. This is in conformity with the long-held Indian position on the Afghan peace process. That is, any peace process should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled.

Limited interest of the major powers

  • Major powers have limited interests in the peace process.
  • The European Union has made it clear that its financial contribution will depend on the security environment and the human rights record.
  • China can always lean on Pakistan to preserve its security and connectivity interests.
  • For Russia, blocking the drug supply and keeping its southern periphery secure from extremist influences is key.
  • That is why no major power is taking ownership for the reconciliation talks, but merely content with being facilitators.
Why India needs to improve its participation in the Afghan peace process?
India’s economic, strategic and security ties could be disturbed if the Taliban takes over. Recently, India has improved its relations with Afghanistan in the following ways.
  • India has built deep ties with the Afghan people and the government by investing in multiple projects. These projects deal with education, power generation, irrigation, and other infrastructure development, etc.
  • India has sent Afghanistan its first batch of vaccines.
  • Recently, India had signed an agreement to build the Shahtoot dam near Kabul.
So, India has to be more flexible and adapt to the new strategic reality. 
Suggestions to improve India’s participation:
  • India needs to figure out how to help Afghanistan to end the violence without total submission of power to the Taliban.
  • India joining the peace process could strengthen the hands of the Afghan government. As the government is negotiating from a position of weakness.
  • Apart from that, India should use its regional influence to deepen ties with both the U.S. and Russia to achieve double peace. (Both inside Afghanistan and in the region.)

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