New DelhiOne hour agoAuthor: Poonam Kaushal
The ever-increasing occupation of Taliban in Afghanistan has worried the whole world. The Taliban’s control over the power here is also a matter of concern for India. In the last 20 years, India has invested about 22 thousand crore rupees in Afghanistan. The question is, will this investment be completely stuck after the Taliban take over?
Mushtaq Rahim, a political analyst based in Kabul, says, “There is a fierce conflict going on between the Taliban and the government army. Right now the Taliban is far from Kabul, but if a peace agreement is not reached in Afghanistan, then there is a possibility of great destruction. The economy here is already in ruins. Whatever investments India has made here, in the event of a civil war, they will also be in limbo.
India started investments after the end of the previous Taliban regime
Between 1996 and 2001, when Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban, India broke ties with Afghanistan, but after the arrival of America, when Hamid Karzai’s government was formed, India became active again in Kabul.
Afghanistan has always been very important from the point of view of India’s security. As instability increases in Afghanistan, jihadi and radical groups become active in Kashmir. In such a situation, India’s strategy has been to keep close to the political power in Afghanistan, which can keep the radical groups under control. Apart from this, Afghanistan has also been very important for India in terms of trade with countries like Iran.
India has invested heavily in Afghanistan in the last two decades after the arrival of the US. According to the Ministry of External Affairs of India, India has more than 400 small and big projects in Afghanistan. Let us take a look at some of the big projects of India going on in Afghanistan. And let’s also see that what is the impact of the ongoing fight on them.
1. Salma Dam: It is a 42 MW hydropower project in Herat province of Afghanistan. It was inaugurated in 2016 and is known as India-Afghan Friendship Project.
What is the status now: Heavy fighting has been going on in Herat province for the past few weeks and the Taliban claim they are now in control of the areas around the dam. There have also been reports that many security personnel deployed in the security of the dam have also been killed by the Taliban.
2.Afghan Parliament: One of India’s most prominent projects in Afghanistan is the Parliament of Afghanistan in Kabul. India has spent about Rs 675 crore in its construction. It was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in the year 2015 and described the Indo-Afghan friendship as historic. There is also a block in this Parliament named after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
What is the status now: Mushtaq Rahim, a political analyst based in Kabul, says, ‘The Taliban is rapidly occupying the outskirts of Afghanistan, but it is not easy to reach Kabul right now, but if the Taliban capture most of the country and Kabul If a nominal government is left in the U.S., it will not be able to protect the broader Indian interests like trade and security. In such a situation, the purpose for which India and other countries made such investments will not be fulfilled.
3. Highway Projects: The India Border Roads Organization has also built a 218 km long highway in Afghanistan. $ 150 million has been spent on this highway from Zaranj to Delaram near the border with Iran. This highway is also important because it gives India an alternative route through Iran in Afghanistan. 11 people of India also lost their lives in the construction of this highway. Apart from Jaranj-Dellaram, India has invested in many road construction projects.
What is the status now: The Jaranj-Dellaram project is one of India’s most important investments in terms of business. If Pakistan prevents India from trade through land, then this road becomes very important in that situation. If there is Taliban control on this highway then it will be a big setback for India.
These are big projects that are of strategic importance to India-Afghan relations. Apart from these, more than 400 projects of the Government of India are going on in 34 districts of Afghanistan. These include projects related to health, transportation and power infra. The Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, which started in Kabul in 1985, was ruined in the civil war. India has also rebuilt it. India also has significant investments in many Indo-Afghan cultural projects.
The new Afghan Parliament, built with India’s help in Kabul, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in 2015. A block in this Afghan Parliament is named after former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Then what will happen to India’s investment?
So will India’s investment in Afghanistan sink now? Mushtaq Rahim says on this question, ‘If the Taliban establish their power in Afghanistan, then it will be a setback for India, but this time the Taliban is also trying to consider it as a political party instead of just a radical organization. Go. In such a situation, it has to be seen which faction dominates the Taliban.
Mushtaq says two things for this. “If Taliban leaders with a Pakistan-leaning stance are dominant in power, it will certainly pose a threat to India’s political and security interests,” he says. If the Taliban behave like a mature political party after gaining power, then the Indian government can explore some avenues through talks with them.
Kabir Tanreja, an expert on Afghanistan’s affairs, says, ‘After the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan, India’s investment will be completely drowned, it is not so. Even if the Taliban comes to power, it will still have to provide public facilities. So this time Taliban will not try to destroy India’s investment as they destroyed Buddha of Bamyan, but India will have no control over Taliban. For example, the conditions on which India has built the Salma Dam, will not be considered by the Taliban. The Taliban will take control of Afghanistan’s infrastructure. He will not ruin it, but will run it on his own terms, India will not have any stake in it.
There is a 42 MW hydropower project in Herat province of Afghanistan, which has been built in collaboration with India. It was inaugurated in 2016 and is known as India-Afghan Friendship Project. For the time being, there are reports that the Taliban have captured areas around the dam.
Was India late in talking to the Taliban?
China, Russia, Switzerland and America, all countries were talking with Taliban, but India did not engage in talks with Taliban. Experts believe that India may have felt that if it talks to the Taliban, then it will have to talk to the separatist groups in Kashmir as well.
Kashmir’s leader Mehbooba Mufti had also raised the question that if India can talk to the Taliban, then why not talk to Pakistan and Kashmiri groups? Kabir Tanreja says, ‘This was the reason behind his hesitation in talking to the Taliban.’
Although some recent media reports have claimed that India has started talks with the Taliban, but experts believe that India has started talks with the Taliban only when the Taliban has become stronger. Today, if India sits and talks with the Taliban, then the Taliban will sit and talk on an equal footing. In such a situation, nothing can be said about how much pressure India is able to exert on the Taliban to safeguard its political and security interests.
Tanreja says, ‘If India is not negotiating with the Taliban, then it will be a surprise. Officially neither Taliban will accept nor India, but talks must be happening.
A new corridor of terror can be built in Kashmir
The occupation of Taliban in Afghanistan is also a matter of concern for India’s internal security. It has always been seen in the past that when the instability in Afghanistan increases, jihadi groups in Kashmir become dominant. However, the Taliban had said last year that Kashmir is an internal matter of India and the Taliban will not interfere in it.
Expert Kabir Tanreja says, ‘The problem of Afghanistan is that there are more than 20 groups like Taliban. If Taliban allows such groups to flourish then it can be a matter of concern for India. The Taliban may give safe havens to organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed. In such a situation, a Militant Corridor can be formed from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Which will be a matter of concern for India.
The effect of increasing fanaticism in Afghanistan has been seen in Kashmir. Experts believe that after the Taliban comes to power in Afghanistan, even if it does not directly interfere in the Kashmir issue, but under the Taliban rule, there will be a safe haven for terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. Because of this, incidents of terror can increase in Kashmir.
Can India use the option of the army as well?
Afghanistan has said that if the situation becomes more serious, if needed, it will seek military help from India. What will India do if Afghanistan officially asks for military help from India?
Expert Tanreja says, ‘If India does not help, then the government of Kabul may fall sooner, but if it helps, then India can be accused of meddling in Afghanistan. It is quite possible that India will work with allies like Iran and Russia against the Taliban.
Experts believe that at present the situation is very complex and the Government of India will have to take very careful steps. The relations between India and Afghanistan are old. People also have contact with each other. For the time being, India should try at every level that anyone has power there, but such a situation should not arise that all the democratic structures built there in the last 20 years should be broken.