Events in the last two years, that have coincided with the withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan, increasing attempts by Chinese troops to take over ‘disputed’ territories along the India-China border and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have offered global observers new perspective to India’s geopolitical pull and push, which has now attained an optimum level where both hard and soft power is being used by Delhi to pursue a just world order and ensure and empower safety and nurturing of its own interest.
When U.S decided to withdraw from Kabul in face of the unstoppable Taliban soldiers in August 2021, Pakistan army strategists at General Head Quarters, Rawalpindi wasted no time in sending the then ISI chief Faiz Hameed to Kabul where his deliberations and ill designs of conspiracy of having tea party engagement with Taliban leaders was allowed to be clicked and shared liberally.
This had happened due as pure the fact that the Indian offices in and around Kabul were being evacuated frantically over reports that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency) supported terror groups were conspiring and plotting a plan to launch terror strikes on Indian nationals and Indian assets.
For a moment, the long held dream of GHQ , to promote and use Kabul as the backwaters to mount terror operations in India, seemed to have come true.
Taliban government, armed with sophisticated weapons left behind by the US and NATO forces, has warned Pakistan of getting ready for a strong rebuttal if the latter tries to violate its sovereignty
Reports started emerging of India’s pro-people investment which it had made in Afghanistan were being demolished, from highways to dams. Media reports in pro-GHQ outlets were churning reports on how Kabul and Islamabad would forge together to end the mythical grip of India’s intelligence agencies in the region. Sixteen months later it is a totally new dawn.
While Kabul is now desperately seeking normalcy with India and has repeatedly sought economic and strategic cooperation and facilitated the opening of Indian offices in the country, things seem to be going south for GHQ and Islamabad.
The Taliban government, armed with sophisticated weapons left behind by the US and NATO forces, has warned Pakistan of getting ready for a strong rebuttal if the latter tries to violate its sovereignty and enter Afghanistan to pursue the fighters of Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan is now sharing dossiers to countries and groups alleging how TTP and Taliban are working at the directions of India’s intelligence agencies.
One of the significant points in these entire developments, spread across months, was that India, as any self-confident and self-esteemed country would, did not shy away from criticising Taliban government when the situation arose but it also did not use the situation to force the Taliban leaders to do something which they would not want to do at that time.Pakistan, on the other hand, as Taliban and TTP functionaries shared with the writer, came to them with multiple conditions, all of which revolved around cutting all Kabul-Delhi ties.
Decision makers in Kabul, as the next few months showed, took their time to arrive at a decision. The result as of now is that Delhi is closer to Kabul than Islamabad is.
The Taliban leadership has multiple flaws. It is still stuck to the medieval thought of not giving equal rights to women and is still trying to get a grasp of how much the world has changed since the 90s when they first entered Kabul on military tanks hanging and flogging their detractors along the way.
Yet, the fact that they are ready to take pragmatic and practical decisions can be seen from the pattern, which they have realised, Delhi’s strength. They realise how important it is for them to keep engaging with the North and South block and that they understand the ‘sophisticated’ theory that any country in the region, which has to transform itself economically, cannot take an anti-India stand.
A recent commentary by a Pakistan based well known strategic expert Shahzad Chaudhry, that was published in Pakistan has brought out this predicament for the Pakistan leadership; how they are trying to bite the same hand (referring to India) which, if they would not have, would have helped them in achieving a much better economic growth.
“Two opposing military superpowers of the world claim India to be its ally. If this isn’t a diplomatic coup, what it is”, Chaudhry writes while referring to Russia and Washington jostling with each other to come closer to Delhi.
Delhi, despite several op-eds in national and international media, has refused to shun Moscow which is engaged in an aggressive battle with Ukraine.
Multiple lobbyists and organisations, on instructions from Delhi’s global competitors, have been waging a failing perception war in Washington to paint India as a country which is helping Russian President Vladimir Putin by buying Russian oil.
However, Washington, just like Kabul, realises that Delhi is resorting to what it is doing from a position of strength and op-eds and words of senators will not stop offices in Delhi from signing on trade and commerce files which carry pro-India clauses.
The Biden administration realizes that it evidently and firmly needs the support of the Modi government more than Delhi needs Washington to battle and weather the Chinese threat and aggression, which if not tackled swiftly, will replace Washington as the sole global superpower.
And, therefore, Delhi and Washington, have signed multiple intelligence sharing deals in the recent past that have not only helped Indian military strategists in predicting the Chinese moves at India’s Western borders but also provided and apprised the Pentagon with inputs gathered by India to draw a comprehensive strategy at multiple levels to tackle and weather the Chinese threat. The cooperation and coordination between Delhi and Washington are expected to augment, strengthen and grow at a much rapid pace as a nervous Washington feels the heat of the Chinese dragon.
Post the back stabbing at Galwan in the hands of the Chinese troops in June, 2020, similar nefarious, noxious and mischievous attempts by Beijing have been responded to and dashed to grounds in the similar bout and powerful manner by Indian troops who commanded not to hold back and pay them back in double. The almost two years long standoff has come as a rude shock to Beijing which was prepared and conspired to make fast intrusion into ‘disputed’ territories and marking it as its own.
India never had and never will have a desire to become a global loud superpower, something which Washington is and Beijing is aspiring to be. India is in the process of working towards strengthening its position as an entity which is well aware and sanguine as to how to respond effectively to challenges and time testing, when to respond to adversaries and be able to assure its allies that it is with them, through thick and thin.