Regional Neighbors' Hope for Afghanistan is a Game of Despair

Afghanistan, a kingdom where the King comes and goes too often

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Conflicts or wars in the heart of the troubled Afghan desert, crushed by internal dissension or foreign interests, have been a daily occurrence for decades.

There are many examples of talks between world leaders to repair such a delicate security situation there. In fact, it is a matter of concern to what extent they are again to solve the problem and how much of it is a game of geopolitics!

Afghanistan is a land where people who are sitting on the backs of power and authority are probably fans of the poet Abul Hasan’s ‘Raja Jay Raja Aashe’ poem, (King goes, king comes).

It is true that the Taliban have regained control of Kabul after a long history of ups and downs, but it is not uncommon for their rise to fall in the same instant as in the past.

Concerns about the Taliban in most quarters are their own prejudices, especially in matters of society, politics, and religion. Due to these reasons, they are constantly facing considerable protests and resistance at home and abroad. That again is an obstacle in their way of survival.

However, despite these ideological setbacks, suppression of insurgency, national unity and economic stagnation, the biggest crisis for the Taliban at the moment are to gain the confidence of the neighboring countries and sustain it somewhere.

The Sino-Pakistani border tug-of-war with India in the region is not beyond the scope of the Afghan crisis and the solution lies in the hands of these leaders. Afghanistan and its neighbors and other states have different interests, neither side wants to play geopolitical chess against it, that's why there is so much discussion around!

Following that, India and Pakistan held reciprocal meetings in the first half of this month (November) after Russia, but despite the crisis in Afghanistan, their motives are different.

Apart from India, representatives of Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan also took part in the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue at the National Security Advisor level.

Missing were Pakistan and China, the two most influential countries in present-day Afghanistan, and no representatives from Kabul or Washington.

Pakistan's refusal to accept the invitation was conceivable, as they blamed India for the heated situation in Afghanistan, while China used the excuse of a busy schedule. Thomas West, the US ambassador to Pakistan, later met with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in Delhi.

Despite the absence of all parties, the reality is that the far-reaching significance of the Delhi Dialogue is no less. Delhi is also seeking to recoup the effects of Ashraf Ghani's rule by investing nearly $3 billion in Afghanistan and building roads, dams, and parliament buildings.

Although not a neighbor, Afghanistan is of immense value to India on economic and security issues. Afghan territory has long been a safe zone for India to keep pressure on Pakistan.

The importance of Kabul in maintaining its strong position in Central Asia is not underestimated. From that point of view, coming to power from the Taliban is a kind of bad news for India. It is also worrying for them that the situation in Kashmir will become more turbulent with the change of power in Afghanistan.

Analysts say this is because Delhi has not shifted its policy to Kabul even after sensing the US attitude. However, the news of India's re-balancing of power structures with the Taliban is being speculated in the news of their diplomats 'backchannel diplomacy'.

On the contrary, the Taliban have been considering India as their enemy for so long, but since the occupation of Kabul, they have been stepping in as such.

The Taliban are well aware that helping India and its allies can do much to help Afghanistan recover from the current financial crisis. The Delhi Dialogue has also shown interest in bringing stability to Afghanistan, including India, and food aid in tackling the refugee problem.

The meeting in Delhi was avoided by China and Pakistan but those who were there were no less. Central Asian countries have the same interests as Moscow and Tehran in Kabul.

Among them are Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, which have direct borders with Afghanistan. Outside the majority ethnic Pashtuns in Afghanistan, Tajiks make up 26 percent, Uzbeks 9 percent, and Turkmen 3 percent.

Apart from drug activities, Central Asian countries are also worried about them. On the other hand, the Shiite minority, Hazara, is most at risk under the Taliban regime. Iran is also concerned about that. In spite of the adversity, the Northern Alliance's one-time foreign allies are certainly not easily accepting the Taliban in Kabul.

On the other hand, less than 24 hours after the meeting in Delhi, Pakistan organized a Troika Plus meeting in Peru with Russia, Russia, and the United States, including the busy (!) China.

There was the presence of Amir Khan Muttaki, the acting foreign minister of the Taliban. By not responding to India's call, Pakistan itself is calling for a separate meeting to send a clear message to Delhi that they are now in the driver's seat in Afghanistan and the fate of the Afghan people is in their hands.

Thinking outside the politics of power, it could be the wrong move for the future to bring true peace to Afghanistan at the end of the day, because nothing is possible without the consensus of all parties.

Although Moscow and Washington defended the status quo by taking part in the meeting called by Pakistan, they do not want to re-establish the Indian ring in Kabul as China wants to continue its bitter relations with India.

If there is a Taliban in Afghanistan, the benefits are as great as the benefits of China and Pakistan. Human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang province could provoke outrage in Afghanistan. Insurgents fleeing Xinjiang are still allied with the Taliban.

China wants to quell the insurgency in Xinjiang province, despite the Taliban's assurances that it is ready to continue its full financial support.

On the other hand, Pakistan's problem is more obvious. In order to bring the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, they now have the possibility of axing their own foot by bringing the pro-Taliban militant group TTP into their country.

Despite the potential for regional problems with Afghanistan, at the same time, its abundance of resources and geopolitical position has given it the nickname 'Delhi Ka Laddu' (something you regret regardless you do it or don't). Where the plight of these now-defunct neighbors finally takes place will be a major topic of discussion in the region in the days to come.

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Al Masum Shakil

By Al Masum Shakil

Student; Department of International Relations, Dhaka University.

Published: 2021-12-12

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