India has to engage with the Taliban

After a long wait, an Indian delegation and the Taliban on Thursday met in Kabul for the first time since August last year, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. The template behind India’s engagement with the Taliban is based on India’s historic ties with Afghanistan. India has historical and civilisational ties with the Afghan people, dating back to pre-independence. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan last year, they had assured security for the Indian diplomats, but the government decided to close the embassy and the Indian mission.

India feared that the Taliban, which is believed to have close ties with Pakistan and its spy agency ISI, would harm the Indian diplomats and people working for India. The fear was genuine, considering the many attacks on the Indian mission in Afghanistan in the past by groups linked to Pakistan. But India simply cannot afford to abandon Afghanistan as it will give a massive advantage to Pakistan to influence the Taliban regime. Also, India has invested massively in the infrastructure sector in the war-torn country and therefore has goodwill among the Afghans. Also, many students and medical patients from Afghanistan come to India. The decision of the government of India to send a team to Kabul to build relations with the new Taliban regime is a good gesture. Even though the Taliban is a rogue element, they are now ruling Afghanistan and India has no choice but to engage with them. India has to engage with them for its own security.