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22nd December 2022 (6 Topics)

Ties with Taliban: On why India should stop engaging with the repressive regime


Taliban’s regressive regime against women makes India to rethink about the engagement with them.


About Taliban:

  • The Taliban emerged in the aftermath of the Afghan War(1978–92).
  • Afghanistan's new government failed to establish civil order outside of Kabul, and much of the country was subject to frequent extortion and assault from local militias and warlords.
  • The Islamic fundamentalist group returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021 after waging an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul since 2001.
  • The group has struggled to form a functioning government that can provide health services and economic opportunities to Afghans.
  • The Taliban maintain close ties with al-Qaeda. Analysts are concerned that the Taliban could provide it with safe haven and allow it to launch international terrorist attacks from Afghan soil.
  • After returning to power, they imposed harsh rule, they have cracked down on women’s rights and neglected basic services.

The Taliban government structure:

  • The Taliban are a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group.
  • The government is led by a thirty-three-membercaretaker cabinet.
  • All ministers are men and are former Taliban officials or individuals loyal to the group.
  • A majority are ethnic Pashtuns, and some are considered terrorists by the United States and are sanctioned by the United Nations.

Impacts of Taliban regime on Afghan people:

  • The Taliban threaten gains made in Afghans’ standards of living over the two decades after the U.S. invasion.
  • The country’s economic situation has worsened since their takeover, with the United Nations estimating that almost all Afghans could be living in poverty by mid-2022.
  • More than 90 percent of the population has been suffering from some form of food insecurity.
  • Exacerbating the crisis is a pause in aid by some countries and international organizations, which had been the lifeline of the economy and public health sector.

How has the world responded to the Taliban?

During the U.S. war in Afghanistan, governments and international bodies joined U.S.-led efforts to oust the Taliban and bolster Afghanistan’s government, democratic institutions, and civil society. They have taken various actions since 2001:

  • S. troops quickly overthrew the Taliban after they invaded Afghanistan in October 2001.
  • The Taliban then waged an insurgency against the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
  • The UN Security Council first imposed sanctions on the regime for harbouring al-Qaeda in 1999 and expanded the sanctions after 9/11. 

India’s response on Taliban regime:

  • The first publicly acknowledged meeting between Indian officials and the Taliban took place at the request of the latter in Doha, two weeks after the Taliban captured Kabul.
  • The Taliban have held out assurances of security if India opened her mission and have sought closer cultural, economic, and even security tieswith India.
  • The decision of the Indian government to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat, medicines, and vaccines to Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance provided the first big opening.
  • Late last year, suggestions were made to the government to send a delegation to oversee the aid distribution and use the opportunity to connect with the Taliban leadership in Kabul.
  • Given that many other countries were sending delegations to Kabul, there was no reason why India should stay away from an area in which it has vital security and strategic interests.

Taliban 2.0:

  • The Taliban has promised to change- not ideologically but organisationally.
  • There are tribal, regional, political, and even policy-based (between the pragmatists and hard-liners) divisions in the Taliban that were not so visible back in the 1990s.
  • For now, the tussle between the different factions has not shown any signs of escalating. However, it does create some space for India, especially because some of these factions are not exactly enamoured of Pakistan which treated many Taliban leaders badly.
  • Developing relations with India gives them certain leverage over Pakistan.
  • The way this dynamic play is that the more overbearing Pakistan becomes, the more Afghans will gravitate toward India.


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