Alarm bells in India, may contact Afghan Taliban after being ditched by US troops withdrawal plan

Alarm bells in India, may contact Afghan Taliban after being ditched by US troops withdrawal plan

WASHINGTON - India felt ditched by announcement of US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan and has hinted at relations with Afghan Taliban.

President Don­ald Trump’s plan to reduce troops in Afghanistan has set off alarm bells in India with experts suggesting New Delhi change its hostile attitude towards Taliban who in the new situation could gain significant influence in the war-ravaged country.

In comments published in various Indian and US media outlets, Indian scholars and think-tank experts noted that Washington appears to be preparing for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan , which will give an advantage to both the Taliban and Pakistan.

“This is bad news for New Delhi, which must prepare for the fallout,” Avinash Mohananey, a former Indian intelligence official who has served in Pakistan, wrote in the *Economic Times*.

Mr Mohananey urged India to first ask Washington not to withdraw precipitately and then to reach out to Taliban because their anticipated rise could “sound the death knell for the government of Ashraf Ghani and also for Indian influence there”, he warned. ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

The main Indian objective — according to him — should be to ensure that Afghanistan “remains friendly towards it, not a haven for hostile elements”.

The Trump administration announced last week that the US will pull out nearly half of its more than 14,000 troops in Afghanistan , triggering speculations across about how this withdrawal would impact Afghanistan and its neighbouring states, particularly Pakistan.

Islamabad also views this development as hugely significant and last week it sent its foreign minister to Afghanistan , China, Russia and Iran to discuss with them various options for a peaceful transition in Kabul. Pakistan is already working with the United States to persuade the Taliban to join the Afghan peace process. Islamabad also attended last month’s talks between the US and Taliban representatives in the UAE, which led to Washington announcing its intention to reduce its military presence in Afghanistan .

Indian scholars argue that this development could change the security scenario in South Asia as well, “requiring reorientation of (India’s) strategic policy” in dealing with both the Taliban and Pakistan.