It is less clear what specific concessions the Taliban would make in return. As part of the tentative deal, U.S. officials anticipated the
Taliban to enter direct negotiations with the Afghan government after a U.S. withdrawal begins, however, Taliban have not publicly reversed their long-standing refusal to negotiate with Kabul. U.S. arguably will have little leverage to compel them to do so
once a U.S. withdrawal takes place
Afghan President Ghani has promised that his government will not accept any settlement that limits
Afghans’ rights. In a Jan 2019 address, he further warned that any agreement to withdraw U.S. forces that did not include Kabul’s participation could lead to “catastrophe,” pointing to the 1990s-era civil strife following the fall of
the Soviet-backed Najibullah government that led to the rise of the Taliban. Going forward, it remains unclear what kind of political arrangement could satisfy both Kabul and the Taliban to the extent that the latter abandon its armed struggle. That is unlikely
to be. Taliban have given contradictory signs, with one spokesman saying that the group is “not seeking a monopoly on power,” and another in May speaking of the group’s “determination to reestablish the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan.”
Still Afghans, who remember Taliban rule and oppose the group’s policies and beliefs remain wary, and for good reasons the world knows to be true.
Afghan Politico-Military Situation and Indian Milieu
The unsettled state of Afghan politics is a major
complicating factor for potential negotiations. Historic political fragmentation in Afghan society along ethnic lines have long existed in Afghanistan but were relatively muted during Hamid Karzai’s presidency. These divisions are sometimes seen as a
driving force behind some of the political upheavals that have challenged Ghani’s government, and they are here to stay.
fallout of rise of Taliban Post 2016 and weakening of hold of Afghanistan Army in fringe provinces, is the rise of Local Tribal Militia. These have been found to be an effective deterrence while being pro-government and in close political and military support
to the US-Afghanistan forces.
India is concerned that a return to power by the Taliban will undermine the fragile government of Afghan
President Ashraf Ghani which is struggling to provide basic governance and security to the Afghan people as it continues to battle the Taliban for its very existence. However, the current state of Afghanistan’s political landscape is composed of Regional/tribal
nodules. Hasn’t every nation evolved from a similar chaotic history, gradually all factions coming on the same platform using aspects of education, policy-based governance, and a surviving economy. India is one of them. Important facet
of this is that these regional entities needs to be credible, genuine and inclusive of its own minorities: be it religious or ethnic. Taliban, Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP, also known as ISIS-K) and leftovers or Al Qaeda are not one of them in their
However regional tribal militia have in past one and half years have seen to be having effective neighborhood cooperation
and effectively repulsing Taliban. This has a strong leanings towards blooming into regional Cooperation and if not too ambitious to say, a regional identity. This appears a viable way forward.
Former diplomat and secretary to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Vivek Katju known for his hardliner stance against the Taliban has adopted a somewhat different take on the
Taliban issue. Katju argued that it is in India’s strategic interests to engage with the Taliban to not only maintain its influence in Afghanistan but to better understand the power dynamics of the broader South Asian region.
India’s first moral necessity is that “all initiatives and processes must include all sections of the Afghan society, including the legitimately elected
government.” Historically, the Afghan government has often been sidelined by international interlocutors in their engagements with the Taliban. Furthermore, this expectation indicates a degree of acceptability in Delhi over negotiating with the Taliban,
as the group represents a “section of the Afghan society.”
India’s second necessity is that “any process should
respect the constitutional legacy and political mandate,” meaning that democratic processes and human rights—including women’s rights—should be respected.
Thirdly, India expects that any process “should not lead to any ungoverned spaces where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.” This expectation is crucial for India, as it highlights the threat posed
by terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda, and Islamic State. Furthermore, strictly in India’s context, this expectation implies that Pakistan-based terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and Jaish-e-Mohammed cannot be
permitted to expand their operations into Afghanistan.
Above is all contrary to Pakistan’s designs and thereby contrarily to
present-day Taliban. US shall have to delve into this mudslide again after half a decade, should it allows Pakistan-Taliban designs in the region. China however also does not patronizes Pakistan-Taliban narrative, which it understands shall surely lead
to the region falling into the 1990s chaos. This is given Uighur’s situation on brink of exploding in the geo-ethnic domain, as well as this outcome, jeopardizing its infrastructure based interests in the area. Afghanistan definitely cannot let that
happen. It is also worth mentioning that the Present-day Taliban understands that it is in no bargaining position, be it organizationally as well as geopolitically, to govern Afghanistan in a manner resembling post-1990s era regime.
as the backdrop, there is not much choice, but for the US to stay put in Afghanistan. A symbolic withdrawal shall be there, given US Presidential elections and Trump’s bid for second term in fray, however, American presence will be there. This is required
to be used to strengthen the Tribal-Militia intra cooperation framework. India is already placed as the fulcrum to this process, given the impetus and goodwill, it enjoys in the region, both with the government of Afghanistan as well as provincial
leadership. This track-II diplomacy and backdoor support to government of Afghanistan shall build the credibility of the Afghan elected government, strengthen the government -tribal interaction, and force all players, to include Afghanistan Government in talks,
which never has happened till now.