As India prepares itself for the reality of a Taliban-governed Afghanistan again, it is assessing its strategic policy given that both Pakistan and China will move to exercise influence over the next regime in Kabul.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in which India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Rudrendra Tandon, among those evacuated from Kabul Tuesday, was also present.
The Prime Minister, sources said, told the meeting that within the next few days, India should provide all possible help to “Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance”.
“India must not only protect our citizens, but we must also provide refuge to those Sikh and Hindu minorities who want to come to India, and we must also provide all possible help to our Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance,” Modi was quoted as having said.
The CCS meeting was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and senior officials.
Official sources, meanwhile, said that at the moment, it is a “wait and watch situation” and “India won’t be first or the last country in recognising the new framework” in Afghanistan.
Officials said Delhi will “be in touch with democratic countries in proceeding forward on next actions”. They pointed out that the Kabul evacuation flight Tuesday of an IAF C-17 Globemaster was done with US help.
For now, India will wait for a government structure to formalise under the new Kabul regime. Officials said given the rapidly changing situation there, it is not clear “who to contact on the Taliban” and “let them formally structure a system”.
Internal power-sharing, officials said, will be an issue in Afghanistan. The influence of Pakistan and China on the Taliban, they said, is also a matter of concern because it signals a tectonic shift within the extended neighbourhood.
India, officials said, is likely to align itself with Western democracies in its approach.
According to officials, Pakistan will prefer a “weak Taliban” to have a stronger leverage, and China will try to increase its influence by pumping in money.
The security establishment feels that the return of the Taliban is likely to embolden militants in the neighbourhood. Sources said the situation in the Kashmir Valley is under control at the moment.