Since the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, India is striving to find its role in emerging political landscape. The invitation extended by Indian National Security Advisor (NSA)Ajit Doval to the regional powers including Pakistan for an NSA-level meeting on Afghanistan was another failed try to make itself relevant player in the case of Afghanistan. Regional powers’ response to India’s NSA-level Afghanistan meeting proved that the premier spoiler in Afghan Peace Process cannot act as a peacemaker until it fixes the mess it has created from the last two decades.
India’s plan to wash its image has met with total failure as the so-called ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ brought nothing but shame for India. On November 10, 2021, India hosted the dialogue in which powerful regional and extra-regional actors, Pakistan, China, and the US, were missing. Not only this, but no representative from Afghanistan was also part of the dialogue. India does not understand the Afghan dynamics and regional dynamics either. It does not know how to engage with other nations for cooperation as it has only adopted a hegemonic attitude towards states especially neighbors to achieve vested interests since it came into existence in 1947. The world has gone through major changes in the last seven decades, India needs to change itself and fix the mess it has been creating otherwise it will continue to face humiliation for the years to come.
The troublemaker, India has always used the instability of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Before the Taliban’s take over, the Indian premier agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was using Indian consulates alongside the Pak-Afghan border as centers for launching terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The Indian state-sponsored terrorism badly impacted Pakistan’s socio-economic and security situation. The state that is hell-bent on destroying the peace and thinks that instability suits, it will never work for peace. And such a state does not care about the ground realities as India did. India chose a deadly path to accomplish its nefarious objectives. India’s use of terrorism as a tool and miscalculations led to its complete failure in Afghanistan.
Indian state-sponsored terrorism has been a serious concern of its neighboring states, especially Pakistan. India has aggressively used terrorism as the primary tool to destabilize Pakistan because Pakistan is considered a threat to Indian hegemonic designs vis-à-vis the South Asian Region. It has used instability in Afghanistan to spread terrorism in Pakistan in the past and still doing the same.
During the puppet regime of Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan, several consulates along the Pak-Afghan border were being used as operation centers by Indian premier agency RAW to achieve their nefarious objectives. Although, after the takeover of the Taliban in Kabul, Indian sanctuaries of terrorists do not enjoy support from the newly established regime in Kabul, the instability in the country is still being used by Indian agencies to further destabilize Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well.
India has always played the role of spoiler in the case of Afghanistan. It does not only use instability in Afghanistan during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s to spread terrorism in Pakistan, it has also been trying to sabotage the Afghan Peace Process. This is quite understandable that why India is always playing havoc in Afghanistan as it wants to engage Pakistan on two fronts. Therefore, the instability in Afghanistan suits India’s hegemonic designs, and it does not want peace in Afghanistan. This is the reason why India is still backing the terrorists’ groups i.e IS-K, BLA, and TTP.
In addition, the Indian behavior in the region can easily be understood through historical lenses. India has dreams of becoming a hegemon in the South Asian Region since it came into existence. Therefore, it often shows aggression while dealing with its neighbors. India knows that it cannot change its geography and with Pakistan’s presence it cannot be the hegemon in the region as Pakistan always resists Indian aggression in the region. Therefore, it has been formulating several strategies to destabilize Pakistan but failed miserably. India was not only defeated in Afghanistan but also remained irrelevant in Afghan Peace Process. Now, when India is striving hard to find some role, then it needs to clean the mess first, that it has created in the last two decades. India must stop sponsoring terrorism in the region and write a formal apology to the government and people of Pakistan for this madness. Not only that, the people of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) have been facing Indian atrocities for over seven decades. Indian policies towards the IIOJK are threatening the peace of the entire region. India must respect the rights of the Kashmiri people and end the siege of IIOJK. The minorities in India are also witnessing extreme violence especially Muslims and Sikhs. They have been largely marginalized in India. This is what India is doing at home, and in the region. With this attitude, it can only be a troublemaker as it is.
India is using these tactics since its inception to occupy the territories, suppress the voices of minorities within India, and destabilize the region to achieve its vested interests. After the rise of the ultra-Hindu Nationalist party BJP in India, the world has witnessed an exponential rise in Indian state-sponsored terrorism in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and also against Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition to this, the BJP led government has unleashed a new wave of oppression against minorities especially Muslims and Sikhs. Moreover, RSS goons are brutally killing Muslims and targeting mosques across India. Sikhs are staging protests against the so-called reform bill passed by the BJP government. This biased and brutal attitude of the Indian state has given new life to the Khalistan movement.
Recently, thousands of Sikhs were gathered in London for the Khalistan referendum. In IIOJK, Kashmiri fighters have also intensified their armed struggle against brutal occupation by Indian forces. More than ten Indian soldiers were killed in just the last one month by the Kashmiri fighters. In short, it seems that the balkanization of India is not far, the way the Indian state is operating inside and outside.
Anyways, as far as India’s role in Afghanistan is concerned, Indian policymakers need to sit and think that where were they wrong? They will come to the conclusion that they were wrong all the way. They were wrong in the past and they are repeating the same mistakes now. Before they seek any role, they need to correct their mistakes first. An NSA-level meeting between Pakistan and India should be arranged to clean the mess that India has created in the past and is still involved in. India needs to apologize to Pakistan and Afghanistan for playing havoc in the Pak-Afghan region.
Why has India failed in Afghanistan? Why is it striving to find a role in Afghanistan but getting ‘big no’? If one tries to find the answers, it is quite simple to comprehend. Before finding the answers to these questions, the recent NSA-level meeting by India can be taken as an example to see how Indian policymakers and its media play their part to project fake India’s victory.
India’s NSA, Ajit Doval, planned an NSAs-level meeting in Delhi to project the Indian role in Afghanistan. They did not invite Afghan officials but discussed Afghanistan. Pakistan and China, the most relevant regional actors in the case of Afghanistan, declined Indian invitation. It is also being said that India had tried hard to bring its strategic ally, the US, in the meeting but it did not happen. After all this humiliation, Indian media played its traditional role to celebrate the defeat they faced at home. They were excited that, at least they were able to bring Russia and Iran on board, but this board was also crashed soon after the meeting concluded when Russia issued its statement after Delhi Declaration. Not only that, but the Russian representative also issued a statement that multiple dialogues shouldn’t complicate the situation. Iran participated in the dialogue as India buys 425,000 barrels a day of oil from Iran, so Iran had to join the meeting, willingly or unwillingly.
A day after this India’s failed try to become relevant in the case of Afghanistan, on 11 November 2021, Pakistan hosted a meeting of the extended Troika, comprising Pakistan, China, Russia, and the United States to discuss the latest situation in Afghanistan. The extended Troika also met with senior Taliban representatives on the sidelines of the meeting. In a joint statement, the extended Troika agreed to continue practical engagement with the Taliban to encourage the implementation of moderate and prudent policies that can help achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan as soon as possible. Pakistan succeeded to bring the Afghan officials, the regional and extra-regional stakeholders on the table as it understands the value of peaceful coexistence. It was Pakistan that eliminated terrorism from its soil and also played a key role in facilitating the Afghan Peace Process. While India has no role in Afghanistan and cannot have the say in Afghanistan’s case as it has been playing the role of ‘spoiler’ in Afghanistan.
When the major regional stakeholders are contributing to the peace in Afghanistan, India should give up on the destructive path it has been following. Peace is the need of all. If India does not understand and does not give up on its duplicity, then it will continue to play its role as a spoiler of peace. A spoiler cannot have any place in peace-making. India’s say about Afghanistan should not be given weightage until and unless it recognizes the Taliban government in Afghanistan. And for India, rather than jumping to conclusions, India must talk about the mess it has created. It must give up on the path that is endangering the peace of the entire region.
In short, India cannot find itself in the row of pro-peace states of the region until it gives up on the destructive path of terrorism against Pakistan, and oppression against the people of IIOJK. India is on the wrong side of history, if it does not understand and clean the mess it has created, then it will continue to face defeat and humiliation. India must respect the internationally established norms and values and settle its issues with neighboring states especially Pakistan. It is time for India to change its policies, otherwise, soon it will find itself in “hot waters” at home and that will be the Balkanization of India.