Afghanistan has been a notable exception to the geopolitical rivalry between India and China in South Asia. New Delhi never really wanted to be involved in the power game of Afghanistan. However, in some recent development which came from a local Afghanistan Newspaper stated that the US Secretary of State Tony Blinken has proposed that India participate in a UN-sponsored conference to explore a unified solution to promoting stability in Afghanistan.
Besides the US proposed Istanbul talks, Kabul has also decided to engage in the Russian talks. On March 18, high-level leaders, including President Ghani, Abdullah, foreign envoys met with Taliban leaders. Russia hosted a peace conference between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Moscow, as the Kremlin pushes for a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement in the war-ravaged nation. The talks come after negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban have stalled in the Qatar’s capital of Doha, while Turkey is due to hold another peace conference in April.
As India is readjusting its Beijing strategy in the wake of the recent military confrontation, cooperation between the two countries in Afghanistan is unlikely to take shape for now. Whereas on one hand, China is taking the unconventional path of intervening in Afghanistan through the backdoor. On the other hand, India has yet to make any official contact with the Taliban and obtain any guarantees from them about the security of Indian assets and investments.
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The recent arrest in Afghanistan of suspected Chinese agents who were allegedly in touch with the Taliban-aligned Haqqani Network provides an insight of Chinese activities in the nation. Beijing has long been interested in the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan’s far north Badakhshan Province that connects Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China in order to monitor the Uyghur population and the insurgencies that emanate from it.
Pakistan’s continued influence over the Taliban further complicates any Indian attempts to reach out to them. Even Russia is not much in India’s participation in the Moscow peace talks. The recent Moscow talks included US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, along with officials from Pakistan and China. Washington has embraced Russia’s role in the Afghan negotiations, forming an unlikely partnership on the issue.