ASSESSMENTS

To Secure Its Foothold in Afghanistan, India Reaches Out to the Taliban

MIN READJul 5, 2022 | 19:52 GMT

Taliban fighters stand guard on June 26, 2022, as people wait to receive aid in a village in Afghanistan’s Khost province after a recent earthquake.

Taliban fighters stand guard on June 26, 2022, as people wait to receive aid in a village in Afghanistan’s Khost province after a recent earthquake.

(AHMAD SAHEL ARMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By improving ties with the Taliban, India is seeking to reduce security risks, counterbalance Pakistan’s influence and improve economic opportunities in Afghanistan. But this strategy is likely to achieve only modest results because of Afghanistan’s fragile economic and security environment, as well as New Delhi’s enduring ideological and cultural differences with the Taliban. Indian officials recently visited Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban took control of the country last year. A delegation led by J.P. Singh -- a secretary overseeing India’s external affairs with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran -- traveled to Kabul on June 6 to discuss the delivery of humanitarian aid with Taliban leaders. With the exception of sending such aid and indirectly contacting Afghanistan through third countries, New Delhi had not established a formal dialogue with Kabul since the Taliban seized power in August 2021. The diplomatic visit reflects India’s new policy of engagement with the...

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