Observing the manner  swift return to power in Afghanistan for the second time  after 20 years by the Taliban  .  Has thrown  its neighbours into confusion how to adjust to a shifting geopolitical  scenario. Afghanistan is situated at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, a  spot of geo-strategic power play. It  has witnessed  the most fierce  power games  between the British  and Russian Empires  over neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia  .

At present except for  India it has workable mutual relations  with   its all other neighbours  ,such  as  Iran ,Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,  China and Pakistan .Besides the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,  consisting of 57 member states, has  every reason to give it  tacit support.  Taliban claims that Pakistan is their brother and second home. About 2.7 million refugees have been living in Pakistan for decades; some of them were born here.  It is an admitted fact but for Pakistan Taliban’s would have not been where they are   once again today. 

Mere word Taliban evokes and spreads fear across the world, a dreaded Islamic outfit that carries forward their own scheme of things. Although  the word Taliban means the students in Pashto, widely spoken  in Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan and Iran . That binds it  and evokes sympathy among Pasto speaking people; there lies its strength.    

Obviously New Delhi  has  been put in a tough strategic stage receiving disturbing at the time confusing signals. A matter of great concern,  that has increased the anxiety moments over the horizon of   Kashmir valley.  One should be conscious of the fact that India has a 160 miles border with Afghanistan, that   runs along Gilgit-Baltistan, in the Jammu and Kashmir State, with the Wakhan Corridor.  That is a narrow strip of land like  a pointing finger, bordered by Tajikistan ,Pakistan , Jammu and Kashmir, until it reaches China. The Upper Wakhanin the  eastern extremity of  it  is known as the Pamir Knot, where the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges meet. 

The state of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh hey Tibet   at the time of withdrawal  by the British of  its paramountcy over the Indian subcontinent was a vast empire in North India spanning over 86 thousand sq miles, nearly half of which lies under illegal occupation of China and Pakistan since  then . It had borders with Afghanistan, U.S.S.R,the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang  to the northeast and the  Tibet Autonomous Region to the east (both parts of China),  Himachal Pradesh , Punjab and   Pakistan.

Though the State now stands technically torn apart yet strategic still has to be considered one unit.  Gilgit Baltistan, is under illegal occupation of Pakistan while it’s the trans-Karakoram tract is with China. It should not be hard to comprehend in general the implications of the Taliban factor.  Who now holds free access anywhere wherever it desires in the territory that is on the other side of the LOC/LAC   with Pakistan and China respectively.

Taliban  has emerged as the third player in this sector, with a large stockpile of  seized   arms and ammunition  airplanes, tanks and artillery . Moreover its strategy is  that others have watches  they have time, borrowed from Wakhan Corridor Inhabitants  may add Chinese Communits warfare practices, when enemy is at rest prick him, when advance draw back and when withdrawing hit hard.   Those who know the history of the State, with   its geography and the military expeditions are fully aware of what it means.

 Indians know Afghanistan through the story Kabuliwala by Rabindranath Tagore of 1891 . A  Nation, with brave hearted people and reliable too. They love India , through Bollywood pictures.  Now the Taliban, traditionally an anti-India group, could once again emerge as a regional terrorist haven. Keep in mind that last time the Taliban were in power, they sheltered pro-Pakistani militants,  gave free rein to a host of anti-Indian terrorist organizations within Afghanistan, most notably   Jaish-e-Mohammed (Je M) and Lashkar-e-Taiba allowed these organizations to regroup, train, running insurgency. 

Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin said, "I pray to Allah that he strengthens the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan so that they may support Kashmiris against India. Al-Qaeda in a message congratulating the Taliban for its victory in Afghanistan  called for the “liberation” of Kashmir and other so-called Islamic lands from the “clutches of the enemies of Islam” .

 Kashmir American Council     in the United States which carries active lobbying on behalf of Kashmiri Separatists    has a number of units as said   in England, Europe and other sympathetic countries.  A large number  of Volunteers from these organisations, belonging to both sides of the  Jammu and Kashmir,  have been taking active part in the fighting along with the Taliban.  Some of them got killed while fighting those who survived returned, a fastened relation with death and casualties rather than lip sympathy.

 In the  Kashmir insurgency, foreign origin, mainly Afghan mujahideens and Pakistani Punjabis   took part. It is said that by 1993 alone, nearly 400 Afghan mujahideen of Hezb-e-Islami of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were present in Kashmir Valley, a number which increased subsequently. . New Delhi is concerned that an emboldened Pakistan will use this as an opportunity to hit India. 

Afghanistan once ruled Kashmir   for 66 years from 1752 to  1819 A.D. Those interested to comprehend   the situation should read, exploits of Sikh regime after the defeat of Afghans in Kashmir, and thereafter  the Dogras. Every battle, bordering Afghanistan, Gilgit, Nagar Haveli, Hunza, Chitral has to be analysed in detail to know about the Gilgit baltistan belt. That shall give a reader  an inkling how vulnerable our borders are in this sector from all sides.

The response from the authorities with regard to looming dangers from the Taliban on its borders are reassuring one but  at the same time contrary to  the officers who have served   in that front. General Bipin Rawat Chief of the Defence Staff asserted that any possible terrorist activity flowing out of Taliban controlled Afghanistan   and finding its way into India will be dealt with firmly . Defence Minister Sh  Rajnath Singh said  that the center is alert and capable of dealing with any situation arising out of  Afgahan crisis  further adding that India  will not hesitate  in carrying  out its operation  from the soil of  other country to fight terrorism.

As a citezen one has to believe  word to word his assertations. At the same time  one cannot afford to ignore the observations on the latest development  that has come  the other day  from  the Gen (rtd ) Shanker Roy Chowdhry  who has been a part of  the 1965 and 1971 wars   said that we have to understand that the Taliban victory in Afghanistan , is seen a victory Pakistan ad defeat for India. We have to organize ourselves to fresh attacks  by elements like  Jaish-e- Mohammad.We have to  prepare for the designs of Pakistan in support of radical elements here. We have to increase outreach to kashmiris,we have to assure them that India will remain a secular democracy.

Former Northern Army General B.S. Jaswal (rtd ) has  his views  based  on his   experiences  that India should  stay prepared  for  terror spill over from Afghanistan  via Pakistan.Earlier way back  on 16 September 2016,   General Shanker Roy Chowdhry, told in a interview on NDTV reflecting   the rage  in the Military Brass  over an extremist  attack in north  kashmirs Uri that killed 17 soldiers, India should form its own  ' Fidayeen ' ( suicide ) squad. 

Those who have   gone  through the elementy military history on this sector right from the Afghan  rule  over  Kashmir, Sikh, Dogra exploits and post Independence wars be it be 1947, 1962, 1965, 1971,  Kargil War, present ongoing skirmishes on   with Pakistan and  with China.One has to be conscious of the fact India has long borders with it  enemies .  Which requires vigil from land, sea and Sky. 

These days a worrisome factor  has emerged  slowly but steadily that the Indian Army, the finest force in the world, instead  maintaining its tradition  of being a non-political  and secular force has been politicised .At the same time public response in the National cause  found wanting , it reminds whole nation came forward during 1962  war gave  gold and promised blood . This writer  witnessed from the close quarters the wars of 1962, 65, 71, Kargil  about  1947 -48  heard from elders , present  border skirmishes are a regular feature.

Day after day public concern is more on political events than of  being a second defense of the borders. During Feedyaan crossover, we burn effigies, tires or block the roads, raking up the religious issues. That is not how to face the situation, it helps them to be  in the news. New Delhi has to take into confidence the people behind the lines. Unfortunately a soldier is facing the front and at the same time has to assure the supply line that plays a pivotal role in any war .It is well said Put our soldiers where we need them the most.

 It is the people in the theatre of insurgency, as in the state,  who  have been assisting with counter-insurgence .Together  it has kept at bay the nefarious designs from across the borders. Needless to add people want peace and tranquility, and at the same time assurances under the democratic framework.Every one is conscious of the fact, here that besides the Army it is the locals who have to face the burnt of the misadventures, far worse than it is reeling under now  .

Those at Delhi or the rest of the country, just form opinions as  paid  media feeds but in reality it is the wearer who knows where shoe hurts and how much  others only see limp.That makes us worry.

Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

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