Afghanistan is now declared as an Islamic Emirate as the Taliban forms the new government that vows to impose sharia in absolute form. The world is watching closely and so is New Delhi.
Terror State - Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
By ANCA VERMA
Looking at what is happening in India’s neighbourhood – Afghanistan – I can only recall the famous quote of Georg Hegel, ‘history teaches us that we learn nothing from history.’ The Taliban has now formed a government in Kabul that will decide the course of life of over four crore (40 million) people living there. The composition of the government is a reminder that this part of the world is back to where it had begun two decades ago. All the promises made to the Americans or world community by the Taliban seems to be taking flight out of the window.
It's astonishing to see how the world community is coming to terms with the fact that all 33 members in the government have a shady past and at least 14 of them are presently on the United States approved ‘terror list.’ Pakistan has a project at hand – get states to recognize this regime. China has already declared a financial package for the Taliban.
The top religious leader of the Taliban, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, is Afghanistan’s supreme authority; will stay outside the government but decide the very character of it. What shall be character of Taliban rule can be deciphered from the fact that Akhundzada had enrolled his own son as a suicide bomber in the way to serve Islam through their means. Sharia is declared as the law of the land.
It's not a normal return to power of the Taliban and there is more to it than what meets the eye. First, the government is of the choice of Pakistan and ISI Chief Faiz Hameed has done quite a remarkable job for his country. The Doha group that was called ‘moderate Taliban’ is out in the cold.
Haqqanis have emerged as the biggest winners in the race. The Haqqani Network which is a Pakistan backed terror group also listed by the UN and a hefty bounty on whose leaders is put up by the United States. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a dreaded terrorist, is now the interior minister. Experts in the west and Asia have begun to caution the world of increased terror activities in all corners. Then there is Khalil Haqqani who is a designated global terrorist having close ties with al-Qaeda, is the new minister for refugees.
Mullah Baradar has been edged out as hardliners who followed the path of Mullah Omar are now in control of affairs of the state. Baradar had been the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha and was the main face of the Taliban’s negotiations with the world. He is now the deputy prime minister or one may say – the sidekick of Mullah Hassan Akhund.
Almost all parties in all the negotiations were demanding ‘an inclusive and representative’ government but the other ethnic groups have gained nothing meaning and women have zero role to play. The new government is mainly a Pashtun club. The non-Pashtuns — members of Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities— in the government are the second deputy head of government Abdul Salam Hanafi; chief of the army staff Qari Fasihuddin; and the minister of economy Qari DeenHanif. Taliban had amazed the world when women negotiators were seen in action in the Intra-Afghan talks in Doha. But the travesty is that none of them have found a place in the cabinet.
Indian contact with the Taliban had begun with the visit of Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai at the Indian Embassy in Qatar. It was being expected that Stanekzai should be the foreign minister but even he was sidelined by the hardliners.
America has become a laughing stock also for the reason that some of the new cabinet members were prisoners in its Guantanamo Bay cells. They were held there on the charges of terrorism related heinous crimes. This list includes Khairullah Khairkhwa, the minister for information and culture, Abdul Haq Waseeq, the intelligence chief and Noorullah Noori, the minister of borders and tribal affairs.
A New Scramble
As the leading intelligence agencies, experts and think tanks have begun to caution the world that Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has already become the most lucrative adobe for the dreaded terrorists and their organisations, leading players in the world and not just the region have begun to scramble. The speed at which circumstances are advancing have raised the concerns of all. As per undeniable reports, Al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashka-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and ISIS-Khorasan have expanded their networks and assets in Afghanistan amidst all chaos.
While many in this part of the world are looking at Washington DC, the future tone of the matter may be getting set at New Delhi. Just when the new government was taking form in Kabul, intelligence heads of the United States, United Kingdom and Russia were having talks with Indian National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval. In length they spoke about the security challenges emanating from terrorism coming from Pakistan and tightening grip of old guard of Taliban in Kabul. CIA chief Bill Burns and Russian NSA, Nikolay Patrushev spoke separately with Doval but the discussion centered on Af-Pak concerns.
While the visitors expressed concerns of terror spillover from the region to the rest parts of the world, India has cautioned them about the Pakistan backing for the Haqqani Network and many other terrorists. India also held that Pakistani fighters are present in Afghanistan and what’s happening in Panjshir might be a direct result of that.