The Resurgence of Taliban: Implications for India

Why in news?
  • US President Joe Biden had announced the withdrawal of all US troops and NATO from Afghanistan by September 11. This has created a military vacuum in the country.
  • Ever since, Taliban have violently taken control of large swathes of Afghanistan, especially in the rural parts, causing mayhem and violence.
  • From 1996 until 2001, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.
  • The United States had led an invasion toppling the regime for providing refuge to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden who were responsible for 9/11 attack.
  • The 20 years' war saw over 800bn$ spent and lives of over 2000 US soldiers lost.
  • But Taliban could not be fully eradicated on account of covert support from Pakistan.
  • Hence US entered into negotiations with Taliban to ensure a graceful exit from Afghanistan.
Reasons behind US exit:

Shifting of American Priorities: From the Middle East to Indo Pacific

  • United States now sees China as a revisionist power, challenging the US’ hegemony around the globe.
  • Hence it wants to shift its military, political and diplomatic resources from the Middle east to the Indo-Pacific.

Endless wars:

  • The promise to finish America’s “endless wars” within the greater Middle East region was a poll promise of former US President Donald Trump.
  • After the costly, prolonged and devastating military interventions, the US realized that it can’t fix centuries-old conflicts within the region.
Implications for India:

Return of Taliban: 

  • With US withdrawal the triumphal return of the Taliban and its extremist ideology is certain thus affecting religious extremism across the region.
  • Rights of women and minorities as well as democratic values will be undermined in the process.
  • A trans-border link between the Taliban and other extremist forces in the region too is possible.
  • It may provide safe haven for anti-India terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • It will also help Pakistan in gaining leverage over the polices of Afghanistan.

Undermining India’s Role in Afghanistan: 

  • Taliban, which is indebted to Pakistan, may not be favorably disposed towards India.
  • This can affect India's role in the country, especially the huge investments that India has made in its infrastructure.
  • Further since Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia, it may affect India’s plans to access Central Asia.
Implications for regional powers:


  • China is concerned about Taliban's linkage with its own Islamist groups in Xinjiang.
  • Hence it would use its influence over Pakistan to prevent any link up between the two.
  • It is already planning to connect the CPEC to Kabul and Kandahar via a motorway and rail route respectively.
  • The rich mineral wealth of Afghanistan is also a prize that attracts China.


  • Iran is concerned about the Sunni extremism of Taliban and its likely support to Sunni extremist groups within its borders.


  • Turkey has been trying to project itself as the hegemon of the Sunni Muslim World in direct competition to Saudi Arabia.
  • With help Pakistan it will try to increase its influence in the region.

Way Ahead

  • The global community must develop unanimity over the issue of terrorism and not allow Taliban to promote it.
  • India must try to use regional forums like SCO to ensure convergence of regional powers on Afghanistan.
  • India must use diplomatic channels to ensure that its investments in Afghanistan over the last 2 decades are protected and Pakistan's influence is minimized.
  • It must continue to support the democratic government of Afghanistan in its fight against extremism.
Conclusion :
  • America’s exit will bring civil war and political uncertainty in the country and risk all the gains made over the last two decades. It will undermine the future of Afghanistan and have grave implications for India as well as other regional powers.

Posted by Jawwad Kazi on 4th Jul 2021