Kashmir Fallout

DEFENCE minister Rajnath Singh on Monday expressed concern over the evolving security situation in the region following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. He warned that the “anti-national” forces should not take advantage of the changed scenario and promote cross-border terrorism. Delivering the third Balramji Dass Tandon memorial lecture virtually, the defence minister said India was alert to the new security challenges and also mindful of the Chinese threat.

It is true that the Taliban control of Afghanistan has markedly altered the security climate of the region. All neighbouring countries fear some kind of fallout. At the same time, the Taliban has assured the world that it won’t allow its soil to be used for carrying out attacks against any other countries. But the world remains chary of taking the Taliban assurances on their face value. So, the weeks and months ahead of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan would be crucial.

Pakistan has asked the world not to abandon the Taliban as this could once again throw Afghanistan into chaos. The country’s national security advisor Moeed Yusuf even went to the extent of saying that the west faces another 9/11 if the Taliban were not recognized, a statement that has since generated some controversy.

Truth is that the situation remains very fluid and its future direction is difficult to predict. An Afghanistan that is stable and at peace with itself is in everyone’s interest. But the chances of this happening anytime soon appear slim. In the event that Afghanistan once again becomes a battleground between its neighbours, the consequent instability in the country could have far-reaching security implications.

Kashmir is regarded as one of the places that could be most impacted by a Taliban controlled Afghanistan. Experts in South Asia predict a renewed phase of militancy in the former state, already grappling with three decades of turmoil. But would such a scenario play out again? There is no telling as yet. But as the defence minister has also indicated the Taliban victory could create a challenging security situation for the government. It very well can. Over the last two years, even though the militancy in Kashmir has been low-key, and a large number of militants have been killed, the militancy is very much alive and kicking. It is true that the militancy can receive fresh inspiration and impetus from the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. Could this be pre-empted? Difficult to say. But the government shouldn't only tackle the situation arising from the Afghan fallout through the usual iron-fist approach but also urgently initiate a political outreach, something that has been absent since the last seven years.

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