India’s engagement with Taliban should redefine Tajikistan relationship | World News

The swift move by the government of Narendra Modi to provide humanitarian aid and development cooperation to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by sending an official delegation to Kabul has clearly sent shockwaves across the Islamic emirate.

Although the delegation led by India’s Afghan expert JP Singh is expected to return from Kabul today, it is quite clear that the Indian official quietly met top Taliban leaders in the Afghan capital and discussed next steps to advance bilateral cooperation. The fact is that both sides were looking forward to the meeting that apparently caught both Pakistan and China by surprise.

The Taliban’s Indian pragmatic deployment is expected to lead to a new approach from New Delhi to Afghanistan’s neighboring Tajikistan, as it has a highly hostile relationship with Sunni Pashtun forces over the Amu Darya in Kabul. After the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Tajikistan under its authoritarian ruler Emomali Rahmon conducted military exercises near the more than 1,300 km-long border with Afghanistan, along with troops of members of the Russian-led Collective Security Organization.

Although India built a civilian hospital in Farkhor in southwestern Tajikistan and virtually across the border into Afghanistan in the 1990s to help not only the local population but also to treat Northern Alliance members injured in the Afghan civil war, New Delhi should have a reassessment of its relationship with Tajikistan as the latter has come very close to Beijing over the past decade. China is today Tajikistan’s largest debtor and largest investor. As Tajikistan is largely a remittance-based economy, it is clearly below the Chinese debt trap and has therefore compromised with the Xi Jinping regime to the extent that Beijing allows its military base on the border with the troubled Xinjiang region. to use. The fact is that Dushanbe is a supporter of China’s repressive policies against the Sunni Muslim Uyghur community in the Xinjiang region and has allowed Chinese companies to mine gold, silver and other mineral ores in the Upper Kumarg goldfield in Sughd province. China is also building an airbase in Tashkurgan, which will clearly help the PLA monitor any Uyghur secessionist activity in the Wakhan corridor on the China-Afghanistan-Tajikistan border in the name of counter-terrorism cooperation.

It is perhaps due to the growing Chinese presence in Tajikistan and the service provider-customer relationship with Pakistan that India actually had a joint military air base, nominally only over the Afghan border with Dushanbe, which succumbed to pressure from China and Russia. China informed Tajikistan that it was wary of Indian actions in Afghanistan and Central Asia. This is despite the fact that India has provided subsidies for aid, food, medicines, vaccines and humanitarian aid to Tajikistan in recent decades.

As the Northern Alliance enters Afghan history and the Chinese presence in Tajikistan grows due to the debt trap of the Belt-Road Initiative, India must redefine its foreign policy goals in Dushanbe. Perhaps Indian involvement in the Taliban is the first step in this direction.

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