Afghanistan: India is facing increasing influence from Pakistan and China

Posted on 09/16/2021 at 10:00 amUpdated September 16, 2021, 3:17 pm

It was one of the symbols of democracy, the parliament of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The building, valued at 90 million dollars, was offered to the “Afghan people” by India in 2015 in the name of “friendship and cooperation” between the two countries. Over the past twenty years, New Delhi has invested around US $ 3 billion in infrastructure projects as well as schools and hospitals. Pakistan, India’s hostile brother, was then geographically trapped between the two friendly countries.

Today the Taliban’s victory is a game changer. “This seizure of power by the insurgents is undoubtedly a strategic victory for Pakistan,” said Judge Kabir Taneja, associate researcher at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. In the 1990s, the Taliban came to power with the help of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. When their regime fell in 2001, they were able to find refuge there.

Pakistani influence

“Pakistan now has a decisive influence on the politics and future of Afghanistan,” emphasized Kabir Taneja, a security specialist. A few days before the Taliban government was formed in early September, observers will have noticed the presence of the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistani secret service, General Faiz Hameed, in Kabul. Many believe that Islamabad’s shadow hovers over the composition of the Taliban government.

New Delhi fears that Afghanistan will now become a haven for Islamist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba, who operate in Kashmir. The Indian part of this region, disputed by India and Pakistan, has been devastated by separatist uprisings for decades. New Delhi accuses Islamabad, which denies secretly supporting it. India voiced its fears in late August during the first official meeting between its ambassador to Qatar and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, head of the Taliban’s political bureau. The latter had given assurances that these questions would be resolved “positively”, according to the Indian Foreign Ministry.

The charm of the silk road

India also threatens to lose influence over its great Chinese rival. China, an ally of Pakistan, announced in particular that it would send more than $ 30 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. In the longer term, Afghanistan could join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), these new silk roads that China wants and of which Pakistan is already a member.

Like everyone else, the Taliban do not want to leave their sovereignty to their neighbors.

Chilamkuri Raja Mohan Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore

This would ensure the country’s economic viability. “China seems willing to cooperate with the Taliban on condition that they control the separatist forces in Xinjiang,” warns Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University in Singapore. The expansion of the Chinese infrastructure as far as Afghanistan would lead to India being “encircled” in the region.

The South Asian giant can also act as a counterweight to Pakistani influence for the Taliban. “Like everyone else, the Taliban do not want to leave their sovereignty to their neighbors,” said Chilamkuri Raja Mohan. “At the moment you are still very dependent on Pakistan, but in the future you will strive to become an independent actor on the world stage,” explains the researcher.