(Photo: AP)
(Photo: AP)

US-Taliban talks getting called off is a win for India

  • The US has called off peace talks with the Taliban, bringing relief to India and Afghanistan, as the talks would have led to US troops leaving the country after 18 years
  • India is concerned that anti-India terrorists could find a safe haven in Afghanistan, and seeks to insulate itself from groups such as the ISIS

The US has called off peace talks with the Taliban, the Afghanistan-based terror group, bringing relief to India and Afghanistan, as the talks would have led to US troops leaving the country after 18 years. Mint looks at the implications of the high-stakes game

What were the terms of the US-Taliban deal?

The US was to withdraw 5,400 troops from five bases that it controls in Afghanistan within 20 weeks. The Taliban would ensure the country won’t ever again be used as a base for groups seeking to attack the US and its allies. A pullout of the remaining forces would depend on terms including the start of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, as well as a ceasefire, US envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said. There were hopes the Taliban could be persuaded to agree to a ceasefire after it signed a deal with the US and ahead of talks with the Afghan government for an interim dispensation.

Why is India opposed to the deal?

India has long batted for an “inclusive peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, leading to a lasting political solution based on the preservation of the gains" made since 2001. This includes preservation of the constitutional order and women’s rights. New Delhi is concerned that anti-India terrorist groups could find a safe haven in Afghanistan, and seeks to insulate itself from groups such as the Islamic State. New Delhi is already fighting terrorists trained in Pakistan who are infiltrating into Kashmir and would not like to see other groups join the fight.

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How did the Taliban come into prominence?

The Afghan Taliban is a Sunni Islamist organization created in 1994 to establish a strictly Shariah-governed nation. It emerged, many believe, with the help of Pakistan.

What is Pakistan’s role in the peace deal?

The breakthrough in the US-Taliban talks seems to have happened after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the US in July. Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa was present during Khan’s meetings with US President Donald Trump. Given this, the US move to call off talks shocked Islamabad. A foreign office statement said: “Pakistan has been facilitating the peace and reconciliation process in good faith and as a shared responsibility, and has encouraged all sides to remain engaged with sincerity..."

What are the possible outcomes now?

Some say Trump’s move to cancel peace talks with the Taliban could be a tactical one. An NYT report on Sunday pointed to the US-North Korea engagement where he cancelled talks with Kim Jong-un only to reschedule them days later. But there is a view that resuming talks with the Taliban could be tougher. Reports say Trump is isolated in his quest for a withdrawal deal, with senior people around him opposed to it. The Taliban said the US move will lead to more losses to that country, with American credibility eroded.

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