During the era of the Soviet and American invasions of Afghanistan, the region witnessed masses of refugees migrating in the state of bafflement and confusion. According to the statistics given by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are approximately 1.4 million registered refugees in Pakistan, resultantly, this study has ranked Pakistan on top of the list of host countries that have been second home to these temporary displaced Afghan families. Moreover, the same report reflects statistics for other regions that includes approximately one million refugees migration to Iran; although the total number of refugees is estimated to be approximately five million, it is reported that the majority of these refugees have not been registered officially.
On the other hand, India also sanctioned asylum to Afghan refugees but on a limited scale, projecting its image as the white knight of human rights. However, under the garb of this seemingly histrionic human rights act during the times of the Russian invasion, the Indian intelligence compassed the heinous act of spotting persons of influence from these asylum seekers and wheedling the same to become their agents. These Afghan-turned-Indian agents were later infiltrated back into Afghanistan during the American regime after 9/11, and by virtue of the Indian-American nexus, these agents were later honoured with key positions in the puppet government of Afghanistan. This strategy bolstered India to gain strong footings in Afghanistan, thus resulting in the establishment of numerous terror-breeding camps alongside the western border of Pakistan, that were not just functioning as propaganda houses but also as training academies and launching pads of their guerrilla warfare-trained terrorists from Afghanistan into Pakistan territory.
A thread of Indian hostility was witnessed in the recent past, at the Gwadar East Bay Expressway project in Balochistan, Pakistan, whereby a Chinese worker lost his life in an attack by a suicide bomber. Such instances of targeting Chinese officials, involved in construction of Dam, occurred prior to this attack as well; the same has been confessed by Indian apprehended spy, Kulbhushan Yadav, regarding the existence of these terror breeding networks identified alongside borders.
Addressing a recent press conference in Islamabad following a meeting of the federal cabinet Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was in a state of “disarray” after Indian funding for the militant outfit had stopped. Nevertheless, 16 December will always be remembered as black day, one of many monstrosities carried out by TTP in Pakistan, the Peshawar school massacre, a terrorist attack in which seven heavily armed Taliban fighters stormed an army-run primary and secondary school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014, killing 150 people, of whom at least 134 were students. Moreover, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, accompanied by military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, while sharing salient features of the dossier with the media at a presser at the Foreign Office, emphasised that the world could not afford to ignore India’s rogue behaviour and stated that Pakistan reserved the right to defend itself in every possible way.
As the Taliban took control of Kabul, the Modi government foreign office representative, Arindam Bagchi, said India will prioritise Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan in providing e-visas for their emergency evacuation with all required assistance. Hence, India has again proved by repeating the history of providing shelter to Afghan refugees, specifically of its own interests, in order to promote their Hindutva doctrine. However, if it would have been on humanitarian grounds, then the assistance of the same scale must have been extended to Muslims of Afghanistan as well; which is not the case here.
The options for India look increasingly limited. It had long pursued a policy of siding with the groups of erstwhile Northern Alliance. India was never able to make any substantial linkages with the Taliban regime and the take-over in Kabul by the Taliban has left India out of its diplomatic influence in the region.
According to an ex Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Mr. Gautam Makhupadhyay, the old debate in India on whether to talk or not to the Taliban is now academic. Three questions loom uppermost in the minds of observers in India. First, what accounts for the near-total capitulation of the 300,000-350,000 US and NATO trained and equipped Afghan Army and Police forces, the ANDSF, without much of a fight barring a few honourable exceptions in Lashkargah, Herat and Taloqan, against lightly armed insurgents estimated to be around 60,000?
Second, what can explain the US decision to pull out its troops unconditionally without waiting for a negotiated political settlement regardless of consequences that were almost entirely predictable other than the speed with which it occurred? And third, what can explain India’s reluctance to engage the Taliban and what can it do?
As the US withdrawal from Afghanistan nears completion, India needs to prepare for tumultuous times. It was in India’s interest to see the US remain longer in the region. Furthermore, the US’s deteriorating relations with Iran are a threat to India’s overall stability as well. As Taliban took control of Kabul, the Modi government said it will prioritise Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan in providing visas for emergency evacuation. Human rights groups and some Indian politicians have criticised the country’s asylum policy toward Afghanistan saying that it was in line with BJP’s controversial Citizenship and Amendment Bill, championed by Indian Prime Minister Narendar Modi. The bill excludes Muslims, signalling that the Hindu nationalist government harboured a discriminatory sentiment toward the country’s Muslim minority.
Indian Foreign Minister Dr. Subramanian Jaishankar has also recently reached New York for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan. India—a non-permanent member of the Security Council—holds its Presidency for this month. This was the second time in 10 days that the UN body met to discuss the situation in the war-torn country.
In the thick of current situation, for India, in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, the only option left is to work with its neighbouring countries to ensure that a political settlement is reached. India has to open the path for mutual discussion with China and Pakistan, and the need of the time suggests tolerating the views over Kashmir as well. Non-compliance, defiance, and rigidness may cost India in terms of losing its identity in the future of global politics.