In the din over the Kabul coup, analysts are locking horns over the long-predicted change in the strife region.
The day Taliban entered the Presidential palace in Afghanistan capital and heralded a new era in the war-torn country, Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on military affairs, said what strategists and security experts had long predicted: “After victory in Kabul JeM [Jaise-e-Muhammad] has started to talk about Kashmir again. Looks like after the 2 victories: USSR & US, now it is India’s turn.”
This telling tweet came after the defiant vice president of Afghanistan and an ideologue of Ahmad Shah Massoud, Amrullah Saleh accused Islamabad of sending fighters to overthrow Ashraf Ghani government. Believed to be in his idol’s Panjshir den, Saleh has declared himself as a caretaker president of Afghanistan and is now bracing up for the new Great Game ostensibly casting shadows on another restive region.
In the backdrop of these overriding scenes in Pakistan’s “strategic depth”, Ayesha Siddiqa’s military take drew instant reactions from the Indian security apparatus. “We are no more the nation in the making Ma’am,” Ankita Sharma, IPS officer, said.
“Also, we are not USA/ UK, giving protection to other nation for the so-called “world peace”. We are INDIA in INDIAN soil.”
In Kashmir, the newsman who reportedly broke the news of the 1999 Kargil War soon came up with his insightful take on the rise of the Taliban on the Kabul throne and its possible upshot on the pending dispute.
American exit from Afghanistan will impact Kashmir as the Russian exit did in 1989, argued Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, Kashmir’s seasoned scribe.
“In 1989, Afghan guerrillas defeated Russia with America’s help. Now Taliban have defeated America with America’s help. All US allies will be seen as ‘losers’. A new spell of militancy is imminent,” he said.
“Errors in India’s home and foreign policies are innumerable. Relying on Americans will prove more dangerous than a tactical licence to separatism and tarnishing democracy with religious majoritarianism.”
With one error, the scribe said, 20 billion dollars of the Indian taxpayers’ money have gone down the drain in Afghanistan. This money, he argued, would have made Delhi into New York or Kashmir into a Singapore.
“But the real thing, the sense of defeat and victory, and its consequences are immeasurable, unquantifiable,” he said.
“Sense of Pak-friendly Taliban’s victory & US-friendly India’s defeat in Afghanistan is visible among followers of militants/ separatists in Kashmir. But they are publicly tight-lipped due to post Aug-2019 situation. Had it been in 2018, there would have been celebrations on streets.”
As the debate raged on, counterarguments poured in from many Indian experts, including a Supreme Court of India lawyer. “I’ve recently visited Kashmir,” said Shashank Shekhar Jha. “I must tell you that it’s the Indian Army that is stopping Srinagar to become Kabul.”
However, many countered this argument citing the Srinagar-based army commander’s recent assertion — wherein he said the rise of Taliban is likely to cast its shadow in the valley.
Among the takers of this deduction was Prof. Ashok Swain: “After the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, India’s worry should not be Kabul, but Kashmir!”
But an ex-military officer whose stint as Srinagar Corps commander saw him using “heart as a weapon” turned down Kabul’s Kashmir connection.
Syed Ata Hasnain argued that 2021 is not 1990, and that apart from the security scenario, the Indian forces have improved the ideological situation by snapping “Pakistani proxy war” linkages in the valley.
“But since the jihadi ideology is all about networks,” the former army officer said, “it’s still possibility to inspire Kashmiri youth, with the lesson of how 70 thousand Taliban force defeated 3.5 lakh Afghan army.”
But even before the Kabul takeover, the sweeping territorial gains of the Taliban had made many Indian authors inscribe some emerging pattern.
“The holy warriors who stormed Kandahar today will deluge Kashmir tomorrow,” Kapil Komireddi, author of Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India, said. “Enjoy the dividends of two decades of abject sucking up to America.”
Amid all this, Prof Shamika Ravi, Former Member PM’s Economic Advisory Council, asked why are Indians watching the Afghanistan crisis closely? “Because,” she said, “the U.S. presence there since 2001 had a significant impact on Kashmir.”
But while the Taliban’s predicted impact in the restive region remains to be seen, many already see the change.
In other news, the imports from the war-torn country have been severely disrupted leading to a rise in the rates of dry fruits in Jammu and Kashmir.