War-ravaged Afghanistan is on the boil yet again less than a month after the peace pact between the United States and Taliban titled, “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America”.
The devastating terror attack at a Gurudwara in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul has resulted in the death of 25 Sikhs. Meanwhile, India has hinted at Pakistan’s role in this terror attack and the Indian intelligence agencies are even more specific about what transpired behind this attack.
Indian intelligence agencies have revealed that the Gurudwara terror attack was carried out by the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba along with the Taliban-affiliated terror outfit Haqqani Network. The terrorists wanted to attack the Indian Embassy, but the Sikh devotees became their unfortunate targets after their bid to attack the Embassy failed, they decided to target the Indian diplomats visiting the Sikh shrine.
And the terrorists seem to know that targeting Sikh devotees would hit the Indian psyche in a very negative way and that the Indian establishment will in all probability take note of this gruesome, dastardly attack. Moreover, Indian national Tian Singh too died during the terror attack, in what seems like a case of specifically targeting Indians in Afghanistan.
Indian National Tian Singh who was killed by Islamist terrorists earlier today along with 24 others in terror attack inside a Gurudwara in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rest in Peace, Sir! https://t.co/RAza6crDac pic.twitter.com/TgJ744fTc6
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) March 25, 2020
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) March 26, 2020
BIG: Indian Intel Sources say, Pakistan based Hafiz Saeed led globally designated terror group Lashkar e Tayibba along with Haqqani Network responsible for terrorist attack in Sikh Gurudwara at Kabul, Afghanistan. Terrorists wanted to attack Indian diplomats visiting Gurudwara. https://t.co/SBjmvysgvE
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) March 25, 2020
What further corroborates the idea of Pakistan being involved is the fact that Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) which has claimed responsibility for the attack, had appointed slain Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan terrorist Hafeez Saeed Khan as its leader after its formation in the year 2015. As such the ISKP bears close links with both Pakistan and Pakistan-sponsored Taliban. Moreover a statement by ISIS has claimed that this attack was revenge against Indian actions in Kashmir, further proving Pakistan’s involvement in this attack.
Targeting a Gurudwara is in itself a target on Indian interests in Afghanistan given that India has the biggest population of Sikhs in the world and only recently the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India has made the first humanitarian call for the non-Muslim refugees, including the Sikhs, persecuted the Islamic States of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The timing of the attack too makes it clear that the Taliban wanted to warn India with this terror attack. Currently, Afghanistan is going through a period of deep political turbulence following the decision of the United States to withdraw from the war-torn Afghanistan which will create ungoverned spaces in the country.
With the United States out of the equation, the Taliban clearly wants to overthrow the civilian Ashraf Ghani government, and in such circumstances the prospects of intra-Afghan talks starting on time too seem bleak. Moreover, while the Ashraf Ghani government has agreed to release prisoners, the Taliban made it clear that it would not cease hostilities against the Afghan security forces merely hours after signing the “peace” deal.
The position of the political establishment becomes particularly precarious given that is riddled with trouble as the Chief Executive Officer of the Afghanistan government has been making allegations of electoral malpractices and fraud against the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani.
India had participated during the peace negotiations in Doha through its Ambassador to Qatar P Kumaran, and therefore the Taliban would be that much more apprehensive of India’s influence in Afghanistan.
In these circumstances, the Taliban wants to confront the Indian interests in the war-ravaged country. While Taliban and its terror proxies want to violently topple the Ashraf Ghani government and take full political control of the war-scarred country, New Delhi has unequivocally lent support to the legitimately elected Ashraf Ghani government. This is why India had also been wary of a peace deal between the US and Afghanistan without the civilian government being a part of the dialogue.
The Indian investments and interests in the war-hit country directly come under threat. It must be noted that India’s development aid to Afghanistan which exceeds $3 Billion, making India the biggest South Asian donor to Afghanistan, and since the US-led NATO forces landed in the country in 2001, India’s reconstruction and redevelopment efforts in Afghanistan have been exemplary.
But with the US leaving Afghanistan and the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network/ Al Qaeda using Kashmir-focussed terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba for attacking Indian interests that could possibly include Indian Embassies and Consulates, the Taliban wants to filter out India from Afghanistan.
What motivates Taliban to attack Indian interests in Afghanistan is the fact that the Taliban-US peace deal, being the sham that it was, only restricted the Taliban from using “any of its members, other individuals or groups, including Al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies”.
There are two shortfalls for India- Taliban will try to use Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) or even the Lashkar e Taiba to target Indian interests in Afghanistan even without technically violating the peace deal, because Al Qaeda is the only outfit mentioned in the agreement. Moreover, the Taliban’s influence itself extends beyond Afghanistan into the tribal belt of Pakistan, of which the ISKP is a living example.
In fact, Indian interests in Afghanistan have regularly come into attack in the past, with a series of attacks on the Indian Embassy, fidayeen attacks on Indian security personnel stationed outside the Embassy premises and even Indian engineers involved in infrastructure projects.
With changing equations within Afghanistan and breakdown of post-US withdrawal Order in Afghanistan, Taliban is looking to confront Indian interests a lot more directly in Afghanistan- the first victims of which were the Sikh devotees, who seem to have been targeted also in the context of the recent Citizenship law in India. In the near future, expect the Taliban to adopt an even more bellicose approach against India.