US seeks greater but vaguely-defined role for India and other regional powers in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON: Acknowledging that India among other countries in the region has a significant stake in Afghanistan, the Biden administration has pledged to ask regional nations to do more to support Kabul even as Washington packs up from the strife-torn country by September 11 after a failed 20-year effort to defeat the Taliban.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, on his way to Kabul following the announcement of the American pullout, said during a stopover at the NATO headquarters in Brussels that despite some differences there are some shared interests across a number of countries, whether it is Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and others, in not seeing Afghanistan descend back into civil war.
“The risks that that could pose to them, including potentially extremism and terrorism directed against them, refugee flows heading in their direction, drugs as well, all of those argue that countries will have an interest and also some influence with the parties in Afghanistan to try to keep things moving in a positive direction,” he noted, without mentioning the Pakistani military’s widely known and well-chronicled role in subverting Afghanistan through its Taliban proxies for its strategic goals.
“I think countries will now have to look hard at the interests that they have, look hard at the influence they have, and decide whether to use that in ways that ensure that Afghanistan is not a source of instability and a source of terrorism and extremism,” he added, without elaborating.
Blinken was following up on similarly vague remarks by President Biden in a nationally televised address on Wednesday in which he said Washington “will ask other countries in the region to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey” since they all have a significant stake in the stable future of Afghanistan.
Biden did not mention Iran, which has a long and unstable border with Afghanistan. The basket of countries also have different interests and stakes in Afghanistan, with India alone devoting huge resources in an effort to put the country on track to be a modern and plural democracy to account for its diversity.
The upcoming US pullout without specific plans to shore up a weak government in Kabul has caused concern in New Delhi, where there is apprehension that a vacuum, in the words of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, could create “space for other disruptors.”
Afghanistan is a nation which is rich in resources, and there are nations “that tend to exploit resources for their own benefit without the benefit going to the community of that nation,” Rawat noted at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue 2021, calling on international community to ensure “Afghanistan is for the Afghans.”
The thinly-veiled reference to Islamabad, whose well-known depredations in Afghanistan through its Taliban proxies, is largely being ignored in Washington, which in the words of one commentator lacks the “scrotal fortitude” to hold Pakistani generals accountable for nurturing terrorists. In the current Washington narrative, the US will deploy less visible but potent force such as Drones to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist haven – a goal that that did not succeed even when it had boots on the ground.

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