Ever since the withdrawal process of American troops from Afghanistan began, the Taliban has started a purge process to eliminate the Afghan forces and overthrow the government. The notorious neighbouring country of Pakistan has jumped in as well and has started wielding its influence in the region by providing arms and ammunition, despite having a monster in the closet i.e., Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, with Pakistan engaged in Afghanistan, it presents a unique opportunity for India to move ahead and reassert its claims over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, PoK in short.
Brutal Taliban Massacre: Taliban executes 22 Afghan Commandoes after asking them to surrender in Afghanistan. This is just a glimpse of how Taliban is going to operate in the coming weeks and months. Disturbing visuals. pic.twitter.com/UBAY5VLefV
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) July 13, 2021
India has been tacitly supporting the US in its endeavour to install democracy in Afghanistan. With those efforts having failed, India is now faced with the prospect of dealing with the Taliban all on its own.
India does not have significant ties or communication channels with the Taliban. In terms of security, the Taliban poses a challenge to India. It is no secret that Pakistan’s Haqqani Network and the Taliban are collaborators. With the Taliban growing ever stronger, and Pakistan’s ISI having good ties with it, India expects Afghani jihadis and Pakistani terrorists to be directed towards Kashmir.
However, by bombing the terrorist launch pads in the PoK and undertaking surgical strike missions like the one after the attack on Uri, India can push Pakistan on the backfoot. By striking to take back the PoK, India can send the message that it will not allow Pakistan sponsored terrorism to fester, neither on Indian land nor on Afghan soil. This is the leverage that Pakistan used to full effect in the early 2000s and late 1990s to corner India.
As reported by TFI, the Afghan Taliban, having captured much of Afghanistan is starting to dilute the Indian influence in the region, purportedly keeping the interests of Pakistan in mind. Recently, one of the biggest symbols of India-Afghanistan friendship had been targeted by the Taliban.
Afghan reports say that a Pakistani spy had been caught by the Afghan forces who was trying to destroy the Salma dam — India’s most expensive infrastructural project in Afghanistan in recent years. It was completed at an estimated cost of $290 million in 2016 in the western Herat province bordering Iran. The Dam was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on June 4, 2016.
A Pakistani individual has been caught by Afghan Security forces trying to blow up Salma dam or 🇮🇳🇦🇫 friendship dam, India’s biggest project in Afg ($275 million). Taliban recently took a checkpoint here, killing 16. Pak is desperate to uproot strong Indian influence in Afg.
— Shubhangi Sharma (@ItsShubhangi) July 11, 2021
Thus, it is clear that Pakistan through its proxies in the Taliban is attempting to push India out of Afghanistan and later come out with full throttle in Kashmir. With a puppet regime installed in Afghanistan, Islamabad and ISI can redirect their focus on tormenting India by infiltrating the border with jihadis and terrorists.
However, New Delhi has several ways to mitigate this disaster. It can try to establish a strong government in Afghanistan. But with Biden, completely leaving the Afghans at the mercy of the Taliban, the prospects of such a possibility materializing appear infinitesimally low.
Hence, the best way to keep the unholy nexus in check is by playing on the front foot and claiming PoK. The elements required for the endgame in PoK has already been put in place. First with the abrogation of article 370, which brought the power in the hands of the central government, by removing the likes of Abdullah’s and Mufti’s, which in turn has left the separatists operating on the payrolls of Pakistan and ISI worthless.
And secondly, the government can now work with a sledgehammer approach and take the gallant and deceive actions in the region. New Delhi cannot afford Pakistan to encroach in Afghanistan and later became a nuisance for Kashmir.
Pakistan is digging a deep hole for itself by serenading the Taliban in the hopes that it will ultimately help it in winning Kashmir. However, if history has taught us anything, the Afghan Taliban and its thirst for power know no bounds. As reported by TFI, TTP members are already working in close quarters with Talibanis in the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan.
The covert backing of the Afghan Taliban to TTP can give a double whammy to Pakistan. It is trying to fiddle with a highly volatile terrorist outfit whose aim and goals eventually tie down to the destruction of borders and communities.
Taliban will eventually dump Pakistan and pursue taking over lands controlled by Pakistan by rejecting the Durand line. It is likely that the Taliban would want to take Pashtun areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, so Pakistan should worry about heightened separatism there in the long run.
Until then, Pakistan thinks that it has a small window to achieve its goals against India, and India cannot bank upon the possibilities and likely events of the future to ensure its security. It has to be steadfast and decisive in action.
Engaging Pakistan at the border, that is, destroying its terror camps and even trying to take back PoK is what India can do now to consolidate its position and prevent wars waged by Pakistan as in the case of Kargil. During the Kargil war, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, and Pakistan could afford to focus its energies on the Indian border and that it did. This time, it is the Pakistan-China nexus that India is up against.