Addressing the fourth Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan at Dushanbe, Tajikistan, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval in stern words informed his central Asian counterparts that India will remain an important stakeholder in Afghanistan. The dialogue attended by NSAs from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan as well as Russia and China saw India assert itself in a rather strong way.
NSA Doval said, “The special relationship with the people of Afghanistan over centuries will guide India’s approach. Nothing can change this,”. It is pertinent to note that India has upheld its decision of helping Afghanistan and its people despite having no India-Afghanistan relations with the Taliban regime.
New Delhi snubs Taliban, embraces Afghanistanis
Doval further added, “There is a need for all present at the dialogue to enhance the capability of Afghanistan to counter-terrorism and terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional peace and security.”
After the Taliban banned the education of girls in schools, Doval called out the terror outfit and said, “Women and youth are critical for the future of any society. Provision of education to girls and employment to women and youth will ensure productivity and spur growth. It will also have a positive social impact including discouraging radical ideologies among youth.”
Is China the target of Doval’s statements?
New Delhi has been steadfast in its stance that it does not approve of a Taliban government but will not let it come in the way of providing humanitarian assistance to the country. A concept that the central Asian countries are having a relatively hard time comprehending.
India’s statement could also have been directed at China which has repeatedly flirted with the Taliban and shown willingness to make a bed with the terrorist outfit. China and the Taliban coming close complicates the situation in the region and New Delhi understands the ramifications of this unholy alliance.
India continues to serve the ordinary Afghans
However, to counter China and Taliban, New Delhi has been making sure that the natives of the country know who is in their backyard. After Pakistan gave clearance for transit trade access, India has sent about 17000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat out of a total commitment of 50000 MT and has also sent vaccine doses for COVID-19 and Polio, urgently needed medicines and winter clothing on flights to Kabul.
Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, India had taken more than 400 projects in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan including vital roads, dams, electricity transmission lines, substations, schools, and hospitals. The current Afghani Parliament building has also been built by India. The 42MW Salma dam also known as the Afghanistan India friendship dam is another significant infrastructural gift by India to the Afghani people, though it is now under the control of the Taliban.
India is the biggest regional and fifth largest overall investor in Afghanistan with investments amounting to $3billion. India has also built stadiums and provided domestic infrastructural facilities for budding Afghani players in India. Thus, one can understand India’s insistence on informing the central Asia neighbourhood that it is still around and no one should attempt to make a bed with the Taliban.
While Pakistan’s NSA was missing from the meeting, it is clear as day that Islamabad is attempting to establish the Taliban as its puppet government to establish its influence in Central Asia. Pakistan’s terrorist resources are now distributed between its Kashmir cause and anti-Pak groups in Afghanistan as well as inside Pakistan. China is a new player and could make a hash of things. Hence, Doval’s statement in front of the central Asian countries was not a formality but a deliberate attempt to send across New Delhi’s intention regarding Afghanistan.