NEW DELHI: Terror groups are expendable to Pakistan once they have served their purpose, Amar Sinha, National Security Advisory Board member and India’s ex-envoy to Afghanistan tells StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi. So, does the rise in ‘Islamic State’ activity in Afghanistan over the last three years signal that shift away from the Taliban? The U.S. is now blaming ISKP(Islamic State in Khorasan Province, also known as ISIS-K) for the attacks on a Kabul maternity hospital and a funeral that killed over 50 civilians including babies and mothers. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad’s statement says, ‘ISIS-K also opposes a peace agreement…Afghans must come together to crush this menace and pursue a historic peace opportunity.’ India, on its part, is sticking to the position that it will not deal directly with the Taliban as of now. This is despite Ambassador Khalilzad suggesting a more active role when he dropped by in Delhi, coronavirus notwithstanding. In an interview to ‘The Hindu’ he spelt it out, that India should engage with the terrorist group.
Amar Sinha warns against toeing the U.S. line that seeks to protect American interests and questions whether the U.S.-Taliban deal takes into account India’s terrorism concerns. In his view, the Taliban appears intent on resurrecting the old emirate, through the barrel of a gun if need be. Ambassador Sinha argues India can message the Taliban without betraying friends in Afghanistan and without having to call on the Taliban in Doha. He adds Delhi is engaging with the entire political spectrum in Afghanistan and doesn’t need a reminder from Washington to be cognizant of the equity its built up in Afghanistan. On the COVID-19 situation in Afghanistan, the ex-envoy, who was one of India’s ‘non-official’ representatives in international talks with the Taliban in Moscow, says New Delhi should let its medical aid reach Taliban areas if the Afghan government requests.
Amar Sinha retired as Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs in June 2017 after a diplomatic career spanning 35 years. He was Ambassador to Afghanistan (2013-16) and Tajikistan (2007-10). He also served in missions in Algiers, Buenos Aires, Washington DC, Jakarta and Brussels.