With the US and the Taliban signing a peace deal on 29 February, and the formation of two governments in Afghanistan – one led by Ashraf Ghani and the other by rival Abdullah Abdullah – a new uncertainty over the power centre in the country has increased for neighbouring nations.
Once the Americans withdraw completely, the Taliban might take over the country and impose Sharia (fundamentalist Islamic) law, says Indian strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney, reflecting upon the worst scenario in Afghanistan with regard to the US withdrawal of troops following a peace deal.
With no roadmap for the power holders in Afghanistan in the presence of the Taliban and two leaders attempting to form a government after claiming victories in presidential elections, the question is what the US withdrawal will mean for the rest of the region.
In return for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the US, the former is expected to ensure that Afghanistan no longer continues to be ground zero for terror organisations that target the West.
Western media outlets are asking how the US will ensure that the “Taliban is keeping their promises” or if the US president has the leverage to “simply declare that the war is over and leave”.
Where Does India’s Goodwill Stand?
India has been confident of its relationship with Afghanistan.
Reinforcing a similar optimism with regard to Afghanistan, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently suggested that Indians have a very high standing in Afghan society.
While intra-Afghan talks await the release of prisoners, the talks are expected to pave the way for further political developments in the country for stakeholders including India, China, and Pakistan.
If the Taliban engages in intra-Afghan talks, India would have no objection, said Amar Sinha, former ambassador to Afghanistan. Sinha attended talks with the Taliban as a representative from Delhi during the Moscow format in 2018.
Like the United States, Russia pursued talks with the Taliban for peace in Afghanistan. India long refrained from participating in the talks, citing an absence of a functioning Afghan government.