Even if Pakistan and China are attempting to depict India as anti-Taliban by not attending the Afghanistan meeting on Wednesday, the real goal is to stabilise strife-torn Kabul so that rising Islamic extremism does not morph into global terrorism and harm the region and beyond. The Indian National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), led by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, is hosting the Afghanistan meeting.
Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan’s national security adviser, has publicly described India as a spoiler in Afghanistan and has opted not to attend the meeting. China, which has backed Pakistan’s overt and covert actions in Afghanistan, has not confirmed its attendance at the summit. Russia is represented at the summit, with Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council and President Putin’s right-hand man, leading a delegation that includes delegates from Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
The goal of the conference, according to organisers, is not to resurrect any opposition to the Taliban regime, but to stabilise Afghanistan, where the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) is wreaking havoc on Shias and other non-Sunni minorities and Al Qaeda is showing signs of resurgence. The most serious threat posed by an unstable Afghanistan influenced by Pakistan’s deep state is that the drought-prone lawless country would devolve into absolute chaos and become a worldwide jihad hotspot. On both sides of the Durand Line, Russia is concerned about the security danger to Central Asian republics, while Iran is concerned about increased Pakistani intervention and Shia persecution. New Delhi is concerned about the Indian subcontinent’s growing radicalisation.
No country has recognised the Sunni Pashtun group whose sword arm is the Pakistani ISI-backed Haqqani network nearly three months after the Taliban captured Kabul (HQN). With Mullah Yaqoob’s group at war with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the HQN’s leader, there is little government in Kabul, and the Taliban’s Doha commitments have been thrown into the Kabul River. The ultra-conservative zealots roving the country with state-of-the-art US armament are waging a violent campaign against minorities, particularly women.
The situation in Afghanistan is so severe that even Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is concerned about terrorist ideology spilling over the Durand Line and posing a threat to Islamabad. It is clear that the Pakistan Army and the civilian leadership, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, disagree on whether jihadist troops in Afghanistan will assist Islamabad’s political goals against India and buy much-needed economic leverage from the West. The power struggle in Pakistan could erupt before the appointment of new DG ISI Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum on November 20 or during the next three months.
China, Pakistan’s main sponsor, is directly engaging the Taliban leadership through Islamabad to ensure that terrorist groups in Afghanistan do not join forces with Uighur terrorist groups to attack Xi Jinping’s authority in the adjacent Xinjiang province via the Wakhan corridor. Another motive for Taliban cooperation is to promote the Belt Road Initiative in Afghanistan, and, more crucially, to guarantee that CPEC projects are not targeted by related Sunni Deobandi groups such as Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Taliban. Given the influence of the ISI on a segment of the Taliban administration in Kabul, China is led by Pakistan’s position on Afghanistan.
India may be irritated by the ISI’s influence in Kabul, but its primary interest is the stability of Afghanistan, even with the Taliban in power. Instability in Kabul will be disastrous not only for the Indian subcontinent, but also for the rest of the world, as the Af-Pak region will once again create a huge number of terrorists.
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