The dramatic fall of Kabul and the formation of an interim Taliban government have evoked high-pitched reactions from our media, security experts, and columnists. They are annoyingly repetitive and self-deceiving. That Taliban was born, brought up, and armed in Pakistan was never a secret. Americans knew it all along and so did the world. It actually made sense for Islamabad to go all out to help the Taliban install a government that neutralises Indian influence in Kabul and ensures that the US and Russia remain militarily non-existent in its proximity, giving space to China to expand its strategic footprints in the region.
Our concerns were mainly on three counts. One, Afghanistan could become an Islamic State and nerve-centre for spreading terrorism and Islamic extremism. But does it not have the right as a sovereign nation to choose its form of government? If we are worried over the virus of the Islamic State afflicting Indian Muslims, then we must pursue suspects vigorously and immunise the vulnerable. It is not an easy task given the fact that most political parties have adopted an insidious policy to shelter suspects for votes.
Second, ISI would now have at its disposal a huge number of terrorists released from Afghan war to step up terror attacks in Kashmir. Question is, why would a country born out of hatred for Hindus let go of this opportunity to dismember India, if possible? Third, ISI which is now sitting on a mind-boggling cache of military equipment left behind by the US will use them to equip terrorists against India.
If it is so, then let us build a strong security deterrence along our land and coastal borders to deter infiltrators and remain ready to fight even a war, regardless of who heads the ISI, Army or government in Islamabad. It is better said than done for we have a ceaseless appetite to quarrel over which weapon and aircraft to buy and whether to invest in a surveillance system that may infringe upon our privacy.
In Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghan quagmire lies a lesson for us. He obviously saw no wisdom in suffering more casualties and wasting billions in sustaining a failed and costly experiment of his predecessors to foist democracy in Afghanistan. Wisely, he chose the option to pressurise the Taliban from a distance to form an inclusive government and restore rule of law if Kabul wanted to be legitimised. True, his exit has thrown open serious challenges for our security from Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. Instead of moaning, we need to build an economically and militarily strong India, without depending on others. NDA’s pitch for indigenisation and dialogue with all countries is a sound strategy in this direction.
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing