The unfolding crisis in Afghanistan is a massive concern for the international community. As the Taliban takes control of the country, many voices call for some intervention from the UK. However, to be truly effective in the region, the UK will need to call on its allies in the area. All of this means that India will have a big part to play in helping to bring stability.
India / UK Relations
India and the UK’s relations have been strengthened by a bilateral agreement this year. While much of the announcements about the two countries’ closer relationship focused on economic deals, strategy in the Asian region was also a considerable element of the talks. Now that the Taliban have emerged as a potential threat, action is required.
The Taliban as a Potential Threat
The potential threat of the Taliban seems to have been underestimated by both US and UK leaders. There are several factors at play here, but one overlooked aspect is the UKs colonial assumptions. Years of financial, military and political investment have failed to produce their desired result. And now it seems that Afghanistan is back where it started.
One of the biggest concerns over this situation identifies the support the Taliban has received from Pakistan. Col. Richard Kemp, a former British Commander who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggests that the ties between Islamabad and Pakistan are a concern. He states that Pakistan created, funded, and now support the Islamist religious-political military organization.
For Kemp, the biggest concern is one that existed during the UK occupation: What happens if the Taliban take over or get access to Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities or weapons? He suggests that Russia, China, and Iran have also supported the extremist group over recent years and proposed that India will be a powerful ally for the UK in the coming months.
With many Afghan citizens fleeing the country, the international community has been looking for ways to help. India has promised to facilitate the repatriation to India of Afghanistan’s small Sikh and Hindu populations. However, this was met with some criticism, leading India to commit to a fast-track visa for Afghans of any religious affiliation.
What Role Can India Play in this Crisis?
Of course, repatriation of citizens is just one element of assistance required by Afghan citizens. When dealing with the Taliban, the UK and India need to come together.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb underlined the importance of the UK and India relationship and called for an international "contact group" to ensure that Afghanistan can’t be used as a base to launch terrorist attacks on the UK or its allies.
The horrifying situation in Afghanistan has brought into focus the UK and India’s strategic relationship in Asia. The Taliban are a considerable threat to stability and wellbeing in the region, which requires a response. With Iran and China proving difficult bedfellows for the UK, India’s role in bringing peace to the area cannot be underestimated.