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September 1, 2022 10:01 pm

Has Taliban Changed?

WHEN Taliban took over Kabul after fighting the United States to a standstill following a war of attrition that stretched over two decades, there were in India, especially in Kashmir that this would lead to escalation of militancy in Kashmir.  A year on, Taliban regime in Kabul has had no detrimental fallout on the region’s security landscape, especially in Kashmir where it was most anticipated. The Taliban is now firmly in control of the country, having vanquished all opposition, including in Panjshir which was led by the former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud.

As the Taliban forced the US into a chaotic, hasty withdrawal last year, India was alarmed. Top BJP leader Ram Madhav was the first to warn of “serious security challenges”. But the fears have not come true as there has been no expected escalation in violence in the region or in Kashmir.

The militancy in the Valley, despite occasional killings, remains at its lowest ebb in years. So much so, that at times its end seems very much at hand. True, there has been some spillover of arms from Afghanistan, confirmed early this year by none other than the then Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.

The videos showing militants carrying M249 automatic rifles, 509 tactical guns, M1911 pistols, and M4 carbine rifles have surfaced in recent past. Security forces have also recovered over a dozen Iridium satellite phones and Wifi-enabled thermal imagery devices that help militants to infiltrate and circumvent security cordons.  These weapons were used by the US forces in Afghanistan. But these weapons have made no difference to the prevailing situation on the ground.

This is unlike the Taliban’s previous stint in power, which led to a steep rise in violence in the Valley. A few scores of Afghan and Afghan-trained militants scaled up the violence in Kashmir. But that there has been no turn for the worse in the violence this time round testifies to the fact that the world has moved on. The Taliban itself has shown some indifference to any involvement in Kashmir. It craves global legitimacy, aid and recognition, it just doesn’t want to get associated with other battles. And this is also apparent from the balanced noises its leaders have so far made on Kashmir

Taliban has, more or less, lived up to these expectations. It has largely kept to itself, busy mopping up the fallout of four decades of war and conflict. The outfit faces an egregious and nearly impossible task of rebuilding the country, and it has no resources to do this. Also, the twenty years of war with the US appear to have sobered the Taliban, at least, as far as exporting militancy. New Delhi will hope there’s no change in this situation.

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