After the inevitable exit
Why in News?
Trump had ordered the Pentagon to prepare for the withdrawal of 7,000 American troops deployed in Afghanistan, about half of the U.S. contingent in the country.
- U.S. President Donald Trump had promised this during his campaign, and several advisers have said since then that he is keen to bring back most, if not all, troops before his re-election bid in 2020.
- Regional players like Russia, India and Pakistan should be more involved in stabilising the situation, and mocked India for not doing enough.
- U.S. war in Afghanistan began as revenge for the 9/11 attacks, which was avenged with removal of Taliban govt. and death of Osama Bin Laden and therefore the primary mission of US in Afghanistan is complete.
- U.S.’s South Asia Strategy for Afghanistan, as announced by Mr. Trump in August 2017, has been discarded.
- The current mission of US troops in Afghanistan is for containment of Taliban. However, the proposed US- Taliban talks in meant to dilute this objective whereby legitomacy to Taliban in Afghan politics would allow US showcase its mission achieved.
- President Barack Obama had faced similar challenges in 2010, just before he announced the big drawdown. As Mr. Trump now moves to cutting American presence to a few well-guarded military bases, India must consider the consequences closely.
- US strategy under the policy that political settlement with the Taliban would only follow after an effective military effort has been discarded with engagement in-direct talks between both US and Taliban.
- The internal situation in Afghanistan is aggravated now by the uncertainty of the democratic process.
Scenario of India:
- India must be prepared for the potential consequences of withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, irrespective of denial of withdrawal from US govt.
- India cannot replace Pakistan’s position geographically, nor can it ever offer the U.S. or any other force what Pakistan has offered in the past, including bases and permission for U.S. forces to bomb its own territory.
- The decision to abandon the SAARC in favour of groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) may have provided some short-term returns in “isolating Pakistan”, but it has had the effect of cutting Afghanistan loose from Indian leadership of South Asia as well.
- Best course with Afghanistan remains its own regional strategy, not becoming a part of any other country’s strategy. This has been the reason for India to enjoy immense popularity and goodwill in Afghanistan.