taliban: Classified parts of US-Taliban Doha deal have India worried | India News

NEW DELHI: India is coming to terms with the fact that notwithstanding Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban and ensuring a strategic failure of the US in Afghanistan, Washington could be re-engaging with Islamabad — perhaps shorn of illusions — once again, after a gap.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar, at an event in Washington, pointed to the “tactical compromises” the US might be making in Afghanisthan-Pakistan, vis-à-vis the Taliban and Pakistan. Acknowledging for the first time, in a mildly reproachful manner, that India had been kept in the dark about the details of the US-Taliban deal, he said, “I think to some degree, we’ll all be justified in having levels of concern. And to some degree, the jury is still out.”
Jaishankar’s reference was to the classified portions of the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha, two annexures of which were not shared, not only with India but with the US’s partners as well. According to sources, these portions include military actions that the US has committed to in Afghanistan. There is deep disquiet in India about the details of the secret portions that could have an impact on India. “There were commitments which were made by the Taliban at Doha… The US knows that best, we were not taken into confidence on various aspects of that,” said Jaishankar.
The upshot of US actions was that they threw the Afghan civil society and the Ashraf Ghani government under the bus, as the Taliban swept into Kabul in mid-August. “We have been victims of cross-border terrorism from that region and… That has shaped in many ways our view of some of the neighbours of Afghanistan. How much the US shares that view and where is it that the US makes its tactical compromises, that is for the Americans to figure out,” Jaishankar said.
India faces a challenging diplomatic-security situation post the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. This relates not only to the legitimacy of the Taliban government, but also to Pakistan’s positioning vis à vis Afghanistan, China and now, the US, all of which could have a bearing on India’s security space.
This week, US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman will visit India followed by Pakistan, a script that hasn’t been followed in the recent past. She follows a similar path struck by CIA chief Bill Burns who was here a few days ago. So far US President Joe Biden has refrained from speaking with Pakistan PM Imran Khan, something that rankles the Pakistan establishment.
For the present, US officials have indicated this would involve evacuations, but sections in the Indian establishment feel that given US’s intelligence vulnerabilities in Afghanisthan-Pakistan, the US-Pakistan engagement may grow. However, there is a growing clamour in Washington to call Pakistan out for its role, with a new bill introduced in the US Congress that directly mentions Pakistan and seeks an “assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the government of Pakistan, for the Taliban between 2001 and 2020.”
Top security sources in the Indian government are convinced the Afghanistan situation will get considerably worse, certainly for the country’s civil society. There are already signs of abuse of women, removing them from employment and education, suffering of minorities etc. This is already playing out badly in the internal politics of the Democrats in Washington. First, a realisation that the main reason the Afghanisthan government folded as it did was that there was virtually no space for it in the Doha deal.
The UN’s credentials committee is expected to meet in November to take a call on giving the UN seat to the Taliban. The Taliban have already named its spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, for the job.

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