Taliban 1.0 Pretending to be Taliban 2.0, Takeover an Undoubted Setback for India: Shyam Saran

Taliban 1.0 Pretending to be Taliban 2.0, Takeover an Undoubted Setback for India: Shyam Saran

hello and welcome to a special interview for the wire supported by glen david books how should we assess the developing situation in afghanistan and what are its implications for india now those sound like simple questions but they are probably the most difficult to answer at the moment and those are the precise questions i should put today to india’s former foreign secretary and one of the sharpest and most highly regarded minds on foreign policy sham saran shamsaran let’s start with how you assess the developing situation in afghanistan and after that i’ll talk to you about what india should do there is a view that what we’ve seen is a pakistani invasion of afghanistan fronted by the taliban would you agree with that view or do you think it’s a bit exaggerated and unwarranted i would put it in another way i would say it is a taliban invasion sponsored abetted and aided by pakistan and enabled by some terrible incompetence on the part of the united states but would you also accept that without the logistical support of the pakistanis the isi and their army the taliban could not have done this with the speed with which they have i agree completely with that because i think the taliban is really a wholly owned subsidiary of pakistan so the hand of pakistan is the critical hand yes and you can see the glee amongst the pakistanis over the victory of their you know surrogate in a sense let’s then start by focusing on the taliban it’s almost a week since they entered kabul what do you make of what you’ve seen and heard is this a new taliban or is it an old taliban cleverly masquerading behind a new rhetoric and possibly a new mandarin style well it is taliban 1.0 pretending to be taliban 2.0 how i see it and if you look at what has been happening over the last six days or so you see that that mask of 2.0 is beginning to fray and there are many reports coming now particularly from the outlying areas from the provinces but even within kabul itself that we are seeing the return of the methods of the barbarity with which taliban 1.0 was associated let me put some of those contradictions contradictions between what zabai allah massoud their spokesman has said and what’s happening on the ground and ask you what you think of those contradictions to begin with as his press conference zabira masood said that they wanted a government that incorporated all sections of society there would be no revenge there would be no searching house to house but the united nations claims that in fact the taliban have been going knocking on people’s doors to find out who’s worked with the americans and who worked with nato deutsche were says a family member of one of their staff was brutally killed amnesty says that in july nine hazaras in the ghazni area were brutally killed or tortured who or what should we believe in trust well i think we should trust what the evidence on the ground is so all that we just spoke about in fact shows that this whole trying to put across a perception that this is a changed lot they may be more savvy but i don’t think that there is any doubt that the methods of the past are very much inhabitants today so let us believe the uh you know what the evidence on the ground is rather than be taken in by what their spokesman are saying in this instance there’s no doubt that the evidence on the ground is incriminating it suggests that the taliban is not living up to what it promises to do let me give you another instance we’ve all seen on tolo television a woman anchor interviewing a taliban commander in fact there would be no discrimination against women they would be free to study free to work within the framework of islam sky news on the other hand in britain has reported that outside kabul but it didn’t say where women were shot because they weren’t wearing a burqa yes there are reports that in herat girls have been not allowed to go to school now in this instance is this deliberate hypocrisy and deception to fool the world or is it a case of different factions of the taliban being confused and not thinking together well it may be a bit of both but i would say that as far as the taliban leadership is concerned they certainly wish to be able to present to the world that they are in fact uh a a different lot uh you know ruling afghanistan today but they when they say that uh whatever they do within will be within the ambit of the sharia and they do not define what that sharia would be because if there is a different interpretation of sharia that they are now trying to suggest they are they are advocating uh they are not certainly giving any any uh you know sign of that so when you are saying according to sharia and not specifying that what version of sharia they are now advocating is different from what they had before ah how can we how can we take them at their word by the way let us also be very clear when they were asked about whether or not their ideology has changed the same spokesman very clearly said that no as far as their ideology is concerned as far as their commitment to the sharia is concerned nothing has changed the whole thing hinges upon are they now interpreting sharia differently to what they did in the 90s when they were right and and they are not interpreting it differently if you see what is happening on the ground but here what you see on the ground in terms of women anchors on television and it’s not just only one anchor well no actually the baby this is the tollo but since then the bbc have shown three four different women on different channels anchoring but there is one woman who says she wasn’t allowed to there are the uh at certainly the official channels they have all been removed so once again the ambiguity that stems from not being clear what they mean by sharia is also beginning to affect what we see on the screen i think what we need to understand is that the taliban as well as their sponsors particularly pakistan i would imagine in addition china would like them at least in this initial phase to try and project a more moderate image so that the challenge of international legitimacy that particular challenge is overcome and yet on the bbc you have secundur kamani talking about drivers who say they’ve carried taliban passengers with their guns but they kept the music on and the taliban was enjoying it so i mean you say you have instances that contradict as well certainly and uh i think one should also recognize that many of the young fighters today are a different generation isn’t it you have some of the older leaders who are still very much in charge but you have the rank and file which is actually a very different generation i’ll come to young fighters in a moment’s time let me first put another contradiction to you once again zabiala masood at that press conference very categorically said afghanistan would not be allowed to become a threat to any other country but bruce riedel writing in the economic times just two days ago says over a thousand led and josh fighters are on location with the taliban in afghanistan and clearly they’re not there as bystanders or chair leaders they are clearly supporting the taliban and in return one presumes they will be given some measure of sanctuary and support so again what do we judge about this claim that afghanistan won’t be used for terror against other countries well the united states itself which has predicated its departure on the taliban assurance that it will have nothing to do with the al-qaeda and that will not allow afghanistan precisely as you said to become a staging uh post for terrorists whether it’s al-qaeda or isis the inspector general of the department of defense in the united states in march in fact when he was asked in a congressional hearing he said very very clearly that our evidence shows that the taliban have maintained their links with al-qaeda and related organizations and it is unlikely that they would give up uh these links and the u.n in june has underlined right al-qaeda links with yes so the monitoring committee the sanctions monetary monitoring committee has said exactly the same thing that those linkages exist by the way what bruce ritter has said 1000 actually from other quarters we hear a figure of 10 000. and don’t forget a very large number of prisoners in the jails in afghanistan who were associated with many of these and they’ve all been released have all been released so on this particular point that we won’t let afghanistan become a sanctuary and a threat to other countries all the evidence is that in fact this is a line yes so either the best you can say is that they may not be complicit and that it may be because of the situation within the country and they are not able to establish full control that’s been kind to them that’s been kind to them but i my sense is that they are in fact complex let’s at this point come to the point by the way for india what is very important also is that uh fighters jaishay muhammad fighters these are all associated they have fighters fighting alongside the taliban what should worry the pakistanis that they are also the taliban pakistan also fighting uh alongside and i i think again for india what is perhaps something that we must watch very carefully is what is the role that the haqqani group will pay absolutely i’ll come to that in a moment’s time but let me first pick up the point you were making about the younger taliban yes taliban that have been born and recruited in the last 20 years since they were last in part right were you about to suggest that maybe they are different more modern perhaps in some ways more willing to adapt and change was that the point you were making well i mean it can be both isn’t it i mean they can be more modern in the sense of being able to enjoy you know pop music but they can also be somewhat more radical than perhaps the older generation who may feel that since they are the victors uh why should they in fact listen to the moderating voices if there are those moderating voices trying to tell them to restrain themselves in fact this is the precise point made by ahmad rasheed who widely acknowledges one of the world’s authorities on the taliban in a recent article in the british magazine the spectator speaking of the new young membership he says the new younger members are much more militant and radical many have been jailed for extremism quite a few have been in guantanamo and were heavily influenced by al-qaeda and its brand of international jihad and then he adds these young guns will now be saying why stop it kabul we have just defeated the world’s greatest military power we should take our jihad to our neighbors and convert them to our course in other words these young people are actually much worse than their elders and a much bigger threat and because they believe they’ve defeated america they’re kokohu because they think they can now carry on and defeat the rest of the region i i think that’s a very real danger and i think what ahmad rashid has said is something that we should certainly take very seriously but i would also add that this whole aspect of having defeated another superpower you know we have dispatched one and now the other one this is not only enthusing and adding huge energy to these young militants but it is also giving a tremendous boost a psychological boost to jihadi groups across the world so if the if the expectation was that by this peace deal with the taliban somehow or the other you have managed to contain this the opposite has happened the exact opposite is likely to happen and that has major implications and this will embolden the led in the just the two jihadi groups who are the greatest threat to i have no doubt about that against this background let’s now come to hamid karzai and abdullah abdullah two people that india has regarded for over a decade or two as very close friends of india but in the last few days both of them have been meeting anas haqqani of the india-hating haqqani group and a group that in fact was called by mike mullen when he was chairman of the american joint chiefs of staff as a veritable arm of pakistan’s isi these two gentlemen abdullah abdullah and karzai have also met the pakistani ambassador and there are reports on the western media as well as in the indian that whenever a new set up emerges in kabul they could be part of it they could be behind it they could be involved in creating it do you see this as a shift away from being friends of india or are they in some way perhaps it’s imperceptible helping india get a foot through the door well that remains to be seen because one of the interesting things is that despite the fact that the taliban is fully on control according to reports that we are getting and they have reached out to these people or leaders from a previous dispensations we still don’t have a government so i mean i i think one has to ask that question that if they are fully in control and they are in a position to dictate terms to say karzai or to abdullah what options do they have they have none they are really in us in that sense they are really at the mercy of the taliban and their pakistani sponsors so even the uh attempt to try and cobble together what would look to the rest of the world as an inclusive kind of government because this is what the chinese have been saying this is what pakistan has been saying so i think there is an effort to try and see whether at least for the purposes of international legitimacy they can in fact cobble together something that looks like an inclusive government they have not succeeded so far let me put a theory to you one thing seems pretty clear that they are in control of kabul except for the airport even passage from the city center to the airport is determined by the taliban when americans had to remove people at the baron hotel who weren’t able to access the airport they actually had to do it by helicopter which means that the taliban control kabul in which case if they’ve failed to create a government even after we could it be because they’re trying to find a way of involving karzai and abdullah and abdullah and people like that and these people are setting terms that the taliban can’t immediately accept and so there’s a process that requires compromise and understanding would that be a possibility that that could be a possible uh explanation it could also be that there are in fact tensions within the taliban leadership itself i mean it’s not a monolithic leadership and hasn’t come to kabul he remains in kandahar and uh he was uh in in pakistani jail uh for quite some time and akunzada according to one report he’s in pakistani detention well that’s a report that we have heard so there is obviously some jockeying going on within the taliban among the taliban factions and i would imagine also their external external sponsors so the situation at the moment is uncertain yes but the facts on the ground do suggest that the rhetoric is not being lived up to the evidence suggests old taliban is asserting itself quite right and if anybody had any doubt frankly that this is in fact taliban 1.0 to whom does it matter most it matters to the people of afghanistan absolutely and if you saw those images on the television of hundreds perhaps even thousands of afghans ordinary afghans running after these transport planes taking people out of uh kabul you know i think the evidence is quite clear right the people the people who matter i mean it may be affecting us as far as the people of afghanistan are concerned who should be most you know perhaps knowledgeable about what this means for them they are they are certainly uh not buying the argument that this is uh a different taliban and meanwhile there’s uncertainty and confusion and doubt about creating a government a week has gone by there is no government and we don’t know why and also there is evidence of some pushback say jalalabad you have seen those demonstrations on independence day of afghanistan you have even within kabul you have seen some demonstrations we are not getting reports from other places or you have also the panchi valley which is not under their control now that may not mean very much but in terms of optics it does appear that the initial assessment that this was a country totally under the grip of the that may not be true may not be there are signs you don’t want to exaggerate them of pushback there are signs of confusion and doubt within taliban ranks there is no government even after a week and clearly the rhetoric is being belied by the facts from the grounds and as the situation for them becomes less uh i would say amenable to their control uh the even this mask of you know trying to be a a kind of a moderate that will drop government uh that is already beginning to drop and may drop even more as the days go by let’s then at this point come to what india should do and what india has done there is a view that in fact india made a mistake by pulling out its ambassador putting out its diplomats and effectively shutting down its mission that view was first expressed by one of your predecessors krishna srinivasan since then two other former diplomats have said the same thing bhadra kumar and fabian on top of that there are reports that sheikh muhammad said sent messages to the indians do not take our diplomats out we will secure you and certainly up till now that’s saturday midday the brits and the french are still in afghanistan and there are mixed reports about the germans some reports say the ambassador is there others say that a lot of vacated but at least the brits and friends are there so my question is simple did we make a mistake with drawing our ambassador or did we have i uh on this point i do not agree with christianity and some of my other colleagues don’t forget the history of our presence in afghanistan we have had two major attacks against the indian embassy one of our colleagues was lost in one of those attacks there have been major two in fact there was an army called 2008 and 2009 and attacks against our consulate in jalalabad so given that history uh how could we take a chance if tomorrow for example with the kind of you know changing and worsening security situation in kabul if there was an attack again against the indian embassy premises and some lies were lost the same people would be you know criticizing the government for not having you know read the writing on the wall and taken our people out so staying on was the risk we simply i do not believe that it it was it was uh you know prudent on our part uh to in fact let our uh diplomats uh or our even our citizens stay there don’t forget just a few days before one of our journalists was not only killed but his you know apparently his body was even mutilated although the taliban just for the record i should say deny they did that that’s uh that’s but there is an interesting situation that emerges there could be and different accounts put a different figure on it somewhere between 500 and 1500 indian citizens in afghanistan and now they are without an ambassador without diplomats without a functioning embassy is there not an argument to make that an ambassador in this environment is a bit like the captain on the deck of a sinking ship he should wait right to the end and his responsibility is to ensure that every indian citizen gets out first in this instance the diplomats and the ambassador who should be looking after indian citizens got out first but 100 i’m sorry 500 or a thousand indian citizens are stuck there well it is a judgement call you know and if you ask me on balance i think it was prudent on our part while it was still possible to get our people out including our diplomatic personnel i don’t think we could have taken uh that risk and yes of course we should try and get our citizens uh out to safety as soon as we can and several have in fact been evacuated but i do not buy the argument that uh you know come hello high water uh our people should have been there and by the way as far as the british and the french that you mentioned they are not functioning from their diplomatic premises from the airport they are at the airport under the control of the americans could we not have done the same well maybe we could have we are after all strategic partners yes we we could have but i i think you know i would not want to second guess the government on this school the situation today is we withdrawn we don’t have an ambassador we don’t have diplomats effectively we don’t have a functioning embassy what next for india now what do we do i don’t mean think that it is necessary for you to rush and you know do something you know this whole business of you know we must do something we must do something you know at times it is best to just sit back and see how the situation is evolving and then take the right kind of uh decisions you know be engaged with all the major actors who are who are who are also involved and see try to understand how the situation in the country is actually evolving so there’s no need to rush to a decision no leave aside to recognize i i don’t think we are anywhere near that point uh or even the sponsors of the taliban have not yet so we are waiting watching and seeing how things develop yes i i think that’s the that’s the right course of action to take you made a very interesting point you said stay in touch with as many people as you can the principal player at the moment is the taliban but we have no contact with them last time around when they were in power in the 90s we coordinated our taliban policy with iran and russia this time round iran and russia have established their own direct contacts with taliban india is perhaps the only major country in the region that doesn’t have a line of contact with the taliban so are we in that sense out of the countries of the region the most disadvantaged we are in a different place and therefore i don’t think uh our posture should necessarily be compared to the posture that say china has adopted or even russia has adopted having said that i think we have good relations with iran we have good relations with russia we should even perhaps keep in touch with china because they have similar concerns with respect to you know whether or not this means a resurgence of you know radicalism in the region ah and try our best to see how we can stay ahead of the curve as far as this very rapidly changing situation uh is concerned but i do not think that we should assume that we are isolated it’s not that they are on the other side of the fence and we are on this side of the fence it’s not isolated has our taliban policies become an element of difference between that and these other countries there is no doubt that this is a setback for india there is no other way of describing what has happened so i accept that that this is a setback but i do not go as far as to think that therefore we are isolated somehow or the other you know this taliban dominated government has now received uh you know approval uh from all the major partners the fact that they have kept engaged with the taliban has not led to an immediate recognition of the taliban even though they have taken perhaps because there is no government to recognize it that may be a reason that’s why i’m saying that the fact that still six days we don’t have a government which is a bit of a bit of a setback for them in terms of the international legitimacy that they are looking for and by the way i am not even suggesting that you should not engage with the taliban but how who do we engage with that we have engaged with them in doha from what reports uh that one gets that is still an establishment uh wasn’t that what stanley was suggesting don’t leave stay on we’ll protect you and that would have given us a chance i do not think that we could have taken at face value that kind of assurance our first uh you know um priority is the safety and security of our citizens including our diplomatic personnel it seems to be the other way around the first priority is safety and security diploma have been left without anyone if if we had abandoned you know our citizens and not made any effort to evacuate them perhaps what you are saying might be correct but that is not correct there is no effort made after sunday well you know the the fact is that we have working together with the americans who are in charge of the technical area in fact one of the evacuation flights did take off from that technical area under us control as long as that area is still under u.s control i’m sure given the relationship that we have with the united states of america it should be possible for us to evacuate those who wish to accept that if you look at the situation as it’s evolved from tuesday when the last lot of indians left and those were diplomats in the ambassador no indian has left since then well the french have allegedly taken 21 to paris but those were 21 who worked for the french embassy the americans are taking people out biden says 15 000 have gone out the brits say seven thousand have gone out not an indian has gone out since tuesday no india train has gone into bridge i have i have not uh heard of you know there are indians being sort of uh you know marooned in kabul and asking for evacuation and not being able to get it so let us let us see whether or not there was a story on ndtv three days ago of indians with their eyes covered up demanding and praying that they be taken out it never got followed further so i don’t know what happened but but there was that one i i don’t as i said i do not have any any indication that there are large numbers of indian citizens who are uh in fact wanting to be evacuated and have no means to uh do that uh since the states the sikhs in the gurdwara and karthi parwan are very keen to get out they’ve been busy texting people in india and there are 3 400 of them in the gurdwara well i mean i i’m sure that if there is there is a situation which demands that the indian government should work together with other partners to take them out certainly we should uh do that i’m not suggesting that we should wash our hands off our but the decision to evacuate diplomats in the pacific i do not disagree with that let’s come to pakistan because it seems no matter how you look at it the country that has gained the most is pakistan not only are the taliban their allies and the word allies euphemistic but even leaders of the northern alliance who are our allies are today in islamabad asking pakistan to intercede on their behalf and i’m talking about ahmad shah masood’s brothers and i’m talking about the hazara leaders khalili and mohake so clearly not only has pakistan got its ally in control in kabul but people who are our allies are now interceding with pakistan pakistan is the winner no matter how you look at it yes i i i don’t i don’t contest that conclusion that whichever way you look at it at least for the time being at this point of time certainly the biggest winner from this is pakistan no doubt about that but whether or not this triumphalism is something that can be sustained over a period of time that remains to be seen absolutely so we can’t really comment on that because we don’t know but let me put this to you at the moment pakistan is the big winner and india which had very close fraternal intimate relations with kabul over the last 20 years is in a sense the biggest loser we’ve lost those how worried are you from india’s point of view i’m worried but also i believe that you know we should not in a sense you know devalue what we had achieved over the last more than 20 years for one thing the kind of goodwill that we were able to have amongst the population in afghanistan through the kind of assistance and support that we delivered that i believe is an important asset now at a time when the ordinary people of afghanistan are facing this kind of difficulty forget about their leaders whom you just mentioned but can we keep faith with them in the sense that if there are large number of afghans who are in india there are students there are other afghan you know refugees here uh there may be more uh suggesting that we should open our doors to afghans who want to come not just those who worked with our embassy but many others who want yes yes because uh i mean if it is i mean i do not uh think that there could be a huge expedition to india because there are you know physical barriers that uh stand in the way but certainly those who are already here or their family members who may wish to join them and are able to do so i think we should adopt a more benign supportive uh kind this goes contrary to the citizenship amendment act well um i have my own views about the citizenship amendment act but in this particular case i would say that we should not think that oh this investment that we have made for 20 years you know it has gone up in smoke it has not gone up in spoke if you don’t let it go up in smoke and one way of ensuring it doesn’t is open your doors to the family members afghans already here and and look after those who are stranded here in a sense so be kinder to students renew their visas help them carry on studying right and and uh convey a sense of uh reassurance uh but the most important thing you’re saying is that if the family members of afghans already in india want to come i open your doors to them don’t be rigid about visas or permissions and that sort of thing i think that would be a very very very good gesture on our part and in the longer term retaining that kind of goodwill among the ordinary people of afghanistan surely that is of some value do you think this government will actually listen to that advice i would certainly hope so because in terms of you know uh what you are saying is a big setback for india and as i considered it is a setback for india but i think we should look at a somewhat longer term perspective and this in that sense this could be an asset and if we don’t open our doors to the sort of people are talking about then in fact we are ensuring the setback will continue for a lot yes and and the and the goodwill that you have at there would be certainly a dent in that isn’t it i mean if you adopt a less welcoming attitude well i certainly hope the government is listening to you although many hearing the audience might have that doubt i’m coming right to the end of this interview but briefly i want to touch on america to begin with how much of damage has been done to america’s immigrant standing by the last two weeks in afghanistan well there are two things one is that what biden has done in terms of policy is not a departure from what we have seen with two other presidents i mean this retrenchment in a sense of america’s you know engagement with the rest of the world uh this retrenchment began with obama himself you know you remember leading from behind you know a strange kind of a remark for a superpower to make and that has continued it continued under trump and i think uh it is continuing under under biden so in that perspective it should not come as a surprise that you know but the humiliation of those people but the manner in which this has been carried out uh is certainly something which is humiliating to the united states of america because even the ability to actually take out their citizens and others from afghanistan is dependent upon the taliban yes so to find yourself in that position uh says something about what the bible says they could never have left afghanistan without the chaos and therefore in that introduction to abc he suggested that it is inevitable that is not what he said just a couple of weeks before in fact when people suggested that it could some be something like the withdrawal from vietnam and with helicopters taking off from the rooftops uh he said nothing like that would ever happen this time it was even worse we had people clinging to plane yes and then falling off and dying i mean to live down those kind of images i think will take a very long time no doubt about it so great damage has been done to the image yes understanding and the credibility of the uh united credibility as an ally that’s right but uh i would uh also say that there are there are certain questions in my mind for example uh when this peace deal was was concluded and the biden administration decided that it wanted to go ahead you’re talking about the february 2020 peace day yes but uh that was under trump i’m saying that it was endorsed by the biden administration if you see some of the statements made by uh for example blinken uh he said that the united states of america has every intention of retaining its diplomatic presence in afghanistan continuing with its support uh to many of the economic and social programs in afghanistan what has happened to convince the americans that despite the fact that they have a certain understanding with the taliban and the taliban let us be fair to them they have not attacked the american or international forces so if that was the expectation why did you suddenly decide to actually pack up your embassy and leave particularly when lincoln had themselves said we will be continuing that’s right so what is it what happened since then that convinced the united states of america that no we have to actually make a come clean and they can’t say that we were under threat from the taliban because no american soldier no american facility no american diplomat has been attacked right so even now if you look at the process of evacuation which is taking place there is no attack from the taliban on the american or international forces what you’re saying is america’s decision almost precipitately to evacuate its embassy fly out its diplomatic is inexplicable it is in in one sense in in a split world now i can i i mean this is speculative so i i cannot back this up by a solid evidence but it appears to me that the united states of america is seeing what is happening within uh afghanistan seeing that the aspect of you know this no longer or never again becoming a base for terrorism has perhaps second thoughts about that now in that sense removing your embassy removing all your citizens from afghanistan make sure that in any future conflict you will not have hostages there you know no american will be held hostage in yourself so if you are moving from counter insurgency to counter-terrorism this is helpful in that sense in other words you can safely bomb kabul from afar without fear yes you’re killing your own civilization or putting them in danger because there could be retaliation against them and this so this is why there’s been this change between blink and so we’ll carry on yesterday i mean i i’m speculating uh as i said i do not have uh evidence to back this up but it appears to me that when they say that we are moving to a stage where we have over the horizon capabilities that can be used for counter-terrorism this perhaps aligns with that kind of strategy a different sort of speculative question if you look at the way the american withdrawal happened certain things stand out six weeks ago they abandoned bagram in the dead of the night leaving themselves with just 650 soldiers then suddenly they announced all their contractors 16 000 would be leaving again overnight thus ensuring that the afghan army couldn’t literally service its equipment at that point american intelligence forewarned the government that kabul could fall in 90 days and now the british papers are saying that in fact blinken was told on the 1st of august kabul will collapse a lot faster and that may be one explanation for the hurry with which they got their people up but do you get the impression from this strange timeline that america wasn’t that unhappy with the idea of taliban taking over well let me say that they were quite uh prepared for the taliban even sanguine about it well i mean that’s that’s difficult to say whether they were sanguine about it but i think at some point uh they uh in fact abandoned uh the afghans uh and it is it is odd uh that they should do so because don’t forget there is in fact a strategic partnership agreement between the united states and afghanistan which is still valid there is a bilateral security arrangement which also has been concluded and by the way this forever war ended in 2014 because as a result of this particular agreement the united states of america said it will no longer be involved in any combat role and the same thing went for the international security rights the forever war ended seven years ago 2014. and in fact if you look at the agreement that khalil zad secured for the americans with the taliban it was entirely in the taliban’s favor the taliban were committed to starting peace talks they never did pressure was brought on ghani five thousand prisoners i will go and talk about fighting i will go further because you remember that lincoln had sent a letter to ghani basically saying you are on your own don’t expect us to bail value out in that particular letter there was a kind of a draft peace agreement which would be concluded between the afghan government and the taliban which was also suggested and some of the provisions of that draft are very uh instructive one was that you know there could be a transitional government but which would involve the removal of ghani himself secondly also saying that there should be a high council which should be established to ensure that as far as jurisprudence is concerned it is aligned together with islamic doctrine rather strange and a complete shift from the position of any government third abandoning a very major principle which used to be there saying that as far as the parliament is concerned and as far as the provincial councils are concerned in both there could be an induction of taliban cutters without going through elections this is the point i’m making if you look at the entire chronology as it plays out from february 2020 right through to the manner in which the withdrawal happened don’t you get the feelings that america was quite prepared for taliban they were facilitating they were facilitating it quite prepared to abandon an ally but they were actually facilitating it as well because these terms are talking about if not decision it was certainly the collateral consequence of what they were doing so i think there is no doubt that at a certain point of time in this particular administration a decision was taken that we would we have no responsibility as far as this so we end with two question marks about american policy the first is the one you initially raised why did they abandon their embassy pull out their diplomats when in fact the taliban had given them a guarantee of protection and security and had lived up to it yes no american soldier no american diplomat has been attacked since february 2020 so why abandon particularly when lincoln has gone on record to say we’ll stay on that’s right and the second big question mark is when you look at the chronology from february 2020 right through to the peculiar but hasty withdrawal you get the feeling that america was quite prepared for the taliban to take over my words or they were even facilitating it if you look at the peace terms that lincoln was suggesting to ghani peace terms and facilitate taliban it is difficult to avoid the impression that they were quite prepared to lean very heavily on an ally because don’t forget afghanistan was a non-nato ally absolutely of the united states so you cannot claim that this was just another country no this was a non-nato alliance they were leaning on ghani to ensure that the taliban have a say and a greater say than he would in a transitional government in fact was out of it right and by the way the takeover of uh large swathes of the afghan territory again i would uh point out that the congressional research you know service in march had in fact said that it is quite likely that various communities within afghanistan knowing that the ghani government no longer enjoys the support of the united states that they will start making their own independent arrangements so as to protect their interests with the taliban presumably right so that is exactly what happened so you cannot even say that this was not anticipated which is why i say were they sanguine about it were they facilitating it those words may not be the most apt but they certainly suggest that america has questions to answer yes i i think that is that is uh correct i mean because these are these are uh things that uh are at at when you when you when you look at them uh they appear not to have any rational explanation so we end this interview with the following thought the biggest gainer out of the country surrounding afghanistan is pakistan yes in a sense the country with the biggest problem the biggest loser because our assets are there is india and the country that retreats is the superpower with the stale between its legs humiliated by the actual manner in which that withdrawal was seen all over the world but also leaving question marks in the air about the whole process yeah but i i would only caution you that uh you know the united states has been written off a number of i’m not writing off america they are embarrassed it will take them a lot of effort uh to try and re-establish uh their credibility they’re very both amongst friends as well as they’re very good at digging themselves out of holes but at the moment they’re definitely deep inside no no doubt about that thank you very much for an illuminating interview thank you take care stay safe thank you you
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Taliban 1.0 Pretending to be Taliban 2.0, Takeover an Undoubted Setback for India: Shyam Saran

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