India will stay relevant in Afghanistan, Taliban or no Taliban

The action is fast and furious. Taliban representatives have attended peace talks in Moscow for the first time. Almost simultaneously, the US special envoy has broken a taboo and opened direct talks with the Taliban office in Qatar. Pakistan has released one of the founding members of the Taliban after eight years. In Afghanistan itself a US general has been wounded in a Taliban attack and there are daily reports of the ever increasing numbers of Afghans getting killed by Taliban terrorists.

Such is the fluid state of political affairs in Afghanistan today that these highly divergent events are all unfolding concurrently.

Amidst all these fast-moving political developments, it was the Moscow round of talks that attracted the most attention in India. India has consistently maintained that it supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. So, sending retired diplomats as observers at the Moscow round of talks naturally sparked speculation that India was reversing its policy on Afghanistan. Interestingly, some commentators have, in the past, accused India of doing exactly the opposite — blocking attempts by the Afghan government to negotiate with elements such as the Taliban.

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