DNA Exclusive: The return of Taliban in Afghanistan, the US retreat, and challenges before India

New Delhi: The US forces have not yet fully returned from Afghanistan and the Taliban has rapidly occupied a lot of territories. Afghan soldiers are fleeing to the surrounding countries to save their lives. In the last one week, the Taliban has expanded to about 50 percent of the area there. That is, the situation is very serious. And this is not good news for India at all.

Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary on Thursday (July 8) discussed the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan after US troops retreated and the challenges that arise due to this for India.

There are a total of 398 districts in Afghanistan, of which 193 districts have been captured by the Taliban, 130 districts are in conflict between the Taliban and the Afghan army, and only 75 districts remain under the control of the government. It is being said that 20 years ago, the Taliban was not as strong as it is now.

Afghanistan is a neighbouring country of both India and Pakistan and that is why it is significant for India. Notably, in the Kandahar hijack of 1999, the Taliban helped secure the release of terrorist Masood Azhar from India. Since then, India has invested a lot in Afghanistan to meet the Taliban’s challenge.

Why did the US withdraw from Afghanistan?

America’s presence in Afghanistan was for about 20 years and during this time it spent two trillion dollars i.e. about 150 lakh crore rupees. Most of this money was spent on the war against the Taliban, and the government of Afghanistan got a lot of money. But then suddenly America started reducing its presence from there by making an exit plan. From the US side, a peace deal was signed with the Taliban in Doha on this. This deal had only one major condition, that is, the Taliban will not allow Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization to operate in areas under US control.

Decades ago, during the cold war, in order to weaken the Soviet Union, America strengthened the hands of the Taliban. They even gave weapons including Stinger missiles to the Taliban.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up into 15 countries, the US continued its support for the Taliban. But on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center in America, its policies changed completely.

At that time the head of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was operating from Afghanistan. Hence, the US sent its forces to Afghanistan.

It means that the US was there for its own selfish reasons and now it is leaving the country for its own benefit.

How will the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the growing influence of the Taliban affect India?

Here are the challenges before India:

1. The first challenge is terrorism – If Afghanistan comes under the control of the Taliban, then terrorism will be the biggest challenge for India. The situation will go in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan knows that the Taliban can help it to boost terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

2. The second challenge is to save its investment – India has so far kept its hold strong with huge investments in Afghanistan. India has invested 3 billion dollars i.e. 2200 crore rupees in Afghanistan in the last few years. Projects worth Rs 600 crore were announced by the Government of India only last year. But the arrival of the Taliban could have a major impact on India’s investment.

3. The third challenge is to maintain its hold over Afghanistan – Although Afghanistan is not rich in natural resources, there is neither fertile land nor large coal, oil and uranium mines, but despite this, Afghanistan has always been a point of interest for the major countries. The reason is its strategic geographical location. The country is crucial for almost all the major trade routes of Asia. China knows this. Afghanistan is an important part of China’s One Belt One Road plan. Therefore, China would want control over Afghanistan. After bringing Pakistan with them, now China is also looking to benefit from Afghanistan. And stopping that will be a big challenge for India.

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