New Delhi: Officials in the security establishment tracking developments in the AfPak region believe that Pakistan will take “new steps”, which include increasing violent terror activities in Afghanistan to convey its “anger” after the US administration under President Joe Biden decided to take the unprecedented step of seeking India’s involvement in the country to achieve long-lasting peace.
Though Pakistan has till now refrained from officially speaking out against this recent development, reports quoting official sources that have appeared in prominent media outlets of Pakistan, have stated that Pakistani officials are upset and have internally raised their objections over the US inviting India to become a part of the Afghan peace talks.
China and Russia, too, did not want India to become a part of the Afghanistan peace talks as both countries, according to Indian officials, were doing Pakistan’s bidding. However, the effort of these two countries seemed to have failed to get any traction, with the US strongly pitching for India’s involvement.
Like the Pakistan government, the Taliban, too, has so far not reacted to the US proposal of involving India. The Sunday Guardian reached out to the Taliban spokesperson repeatedly for their views on this development, but none was received until the time this report went to press.
According to people in the security establishment in India, Pakistan is likely to put across its “objections” in the public domain by using Taliban as a front and seek India’s withdrawal from the table.
Policy deciders in Pakistan believe that the inclusion of India as a stakeholder in Afghanistan’s peace process has come as a snub to the Pakistani government as their argument was that only those countries which share a border with Afghanistan should be made a partner to the peace talks.
The concern in GHQ Rawalpindi, which decides the contours of Pakistan’s internal and external policies, especially when it comes to Afghanistan, is that US’ idea of asking India to “interfere” in Afghanistan was the first step towards a “larger game plan” of establishing India as a South Asian strategic power and a precursor to India putting its soldiers on the ground in and around Kabul in the coming months.
Indian officials, who are aware of the developments, said the speed with which the Quad has taken a formal step—with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga participating in the first ever summit on Friday—has set alarm bells ringing among policymakers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi as, though the Quad is more focused on tackling China’s expansionist mindset, Pakistan’s interests, too, are likely to become a collateral loss in the “power games” among these countries.
The proposal of the Biden administration to involve India in the peace talks became public after Kabul-based media outlet Tolo News published a letter outlining the proposals by US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, was addressed to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and proposing a UN-convened meeting of representatives of six countries, including India, to discuss a “unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan”.
According to the letter, the US will be approaching the United Nations (UN) to convene foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US. This is described as the first step of a four-pronged strategy meant to “move matters more fundamentally and quickly toward a settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.