What do Indians think of the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan? Pakistani responses are one thing but what are the Indian “camps”?

The world is surprised, and now even memeing, about the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, the outside country most responsible for this (unless you count America and the stupidity of its occupation strategies as the most responsible) there have been broadly three camps on this. The majority feeling was one of awkwardness, trepidation and a calling of the equivalent of councils of war. In the Army Chief’s staff rooms, in the Prime Minister’s and Chief Ministers and political party heads’ secretariats and across media stations in Pakistan, the national security and Afghanistan experts were on display and they were giving their council to their respective audiences on what was happening with the fall of Kabul and what it meant.

A smaller minority was one that was sometimes part of this but also openly condemning the takeover of the Taliban. Honourable mention should go to the Women’s Democratic Front for openly condemning the takeover of Afghanistan and various branches of Pakistan’s new-on-the-scene Aurat March (Women’s March) parroted their view. Frankly, I am very happy for the Aurat Marchers to get an explicit foreign policy – that would be cool. The PPP, as far as I can tell did not explicitly condemn the Taliban takeover in Kabul and as far as I know, no Pashtun nationalist formation did either, although if the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement did, I am waiting for their views.

Lastly, I have to mention the Taliban supporters. From heads of religious groups, to Taliban and ’80’s Afghan Mujahideen fanboys in the Pakistani media, this was, I feel, an even smaller group, restricted by age, that was openly hailing the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. It really was/is a sight to behold to see men in the media, of or beyond retirement age, hailing the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban – a sick joke. My guess is younger fans of the Taliban were either intelligently hiding, or more likely taking part in either jihadi ops or doing propaganda or harassment for the Taliban. So the pro-Taliban crowd inside Pakistan might be quieter than its portrayed – a bit like Italy after it switched ides in WWII to join the Allies against Germany.

But that’s Pakistan. What about India? This is one time BP commenters are welcome. Sound off and tell us what the Indians thought about the Taliban, what were the camps inside the country and how large they are.

Postcript — The Pakistan government and establishment’s view:

The official Pakistan government view, of the foreign ministry, the part allegedly controlled by Imran Khan says that they will not stick their neck out as an individual country and will only recognise Taliban control of Afghanistan if a group of countries, likely Russia, China and Iran, all simultaneously recognise the Taliban’s control of Kabul. I used the word alleged, because the foreign ministry takes its marching orders from the Pakistan Army’s General Hear Quarters, Imran Khan is fine with that, and so the foreign ministry’s views are the Army and establishment’s views.

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27 thoughts on “What do Indians think of the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan? Pakistani responses are one thing but what are the Indian “camps”?

  1. Well, personally speaking, I am not surprised. I clearly remember telling my white colleague that the US has lost the war 1 year ago and she replied ‘But they ride camels! They live in tents!’. I realized that Americans do not know much about the world and explained how the US is actually allied with Al-Qaeda (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) to fight Al-Qaeda. I knew right then that these guys will fuck up the withdrawal. So as someone who grew up in India has studied U.S. Policy in S.E. Asia at a good American Uni, I was expecting this. What surprised me was the government was not prepared for this event. Asad Owaisi, a conservative Muslim MP in India’s parliament and a very well-educated guy has been raising this issue since 2014. He has asked successive governments to hold talks with the Taliban and prevent the ISI from gaining total leverage. I think he might have been ignored.
    Just read the news that 150 Indian citizens have been kidnapped near Kabul Airport. This is a total shit show and expected from moron Modi. To the delight of Hindu Nats and pro-Modi media channels, I must mention one more thing: a substantial section of RW Muslims (young and old) who often criticize Modi and are darlings of the left declared their love for the Taliban. Usually, hang out on @MuslimSpaces on Twitter. Would not be surprised if the government puts them in jail. So, yet another L for India’s leftists. Basically, Indians are aware that ISI>Taliban hence worried due to the China Pakistan love story. https://twitter.com/aimim_national/status/1427883288861966336?s=20

    1. Yaar, your comment and that video, put together are like three and a half layers of cynicism put together; with like zero expectations of Afghanistan establishing even half a democracy in itself.

    2. Owaisi is an intelligent and articulate guy in English and Urdu. Don’t know his skills in Telugu , an area where he lives Obiously in Hindutva style politics, he is hated, I think he should be treated better

      1. Owaisi is from the family of Razakars who massacred hindus, and communists left,right and center.Hindu hatred of owaisi is not new it is inheritance but ofcourse now a days they love communists for obvious reasons.
        when it comes to poltics of owaisi brothers they are highly violent to people who oppose within the community or outside the community.
        yes they are good when it comes to speaking telugu but they always remind telugu people they are outsiders and they successfully made urdu second offical language in telangana state.

  2. there is no expectations of democracy in af- pak for the indians, as democracy in india is also a strange plant.
    the anti modi constituency has two lines of thought.
    1. this version of taliban is ‘moderate’ and hence ok. some of them, sudhindra kulkarni, some muslim beards are saying that this taliban victory is a freedom won for af people!!!.
    2. the other line to equate thoughts and actions of taliban to the sayings of rss, bajarang dal etc, in effect saying that both are equal.
    this is because, it is becoming increasing difficult for the hindu liberals to defend islam and muslims. every action of taliban will be critiqued with respect to the standard islamic narrative and this is becoming difficult for the liberals.

  3. My own view is that the US guranteed their defeat by aligning with Pakistan completely. OK, it is US govt’s decision and they are not obliged to anybody other than US electorate as what they do and how they do it. OTOH it completely discredits US belief as a leader, as a leader of democracy and liberty.
    I knew the war was lost , leave alone battles, bombings, etrritory, ect, when about 5 years back, an Afghan national converted to Christianity, the Supreme Court of Afghanistan sentenced him to death and only due to Superpower pressure that individual was allowed to emigrate to another country . If all the US military efforts, soldeirs and money for their ‘friendly government’ still result in death sentence for one man’s religious belief , then the whole expedition and project is utter failure. When all your military might can’t guarntee a minimum liberty , then that is a total failure – time to pack up and go , instead of wasting time with words
    In another Facebook post , one man whose political views I admire had a a sober assessment and I tend to agree with him. He admired Biden for taking the decision to withdraw on grounds of national interest of the US. Fine. Why blame the whole expedition to Afghanistan as a failure. If the US had not gone into Afghanistan in 2001 and removed the Taliban govt, India would have faced lot of terrorist incidents from Afghanistan. So all that was not possible for all these years. So be thankful to the US to that extant. All decsions India takes must also be in it’s self-interest.
    personally I think India should warm to Russia . After all Russia helped India during a crucial time in 1971 at the time of bangladesh For the first time Modi-Putin meeting did not take place and it is notb a good thing. India should be closer to russia. Perhaps even make a deal with China. Yearly Modi-Xi meetings used to take place, and that also be revived That would allow India to concentrate on the economy.

  4. One thing about attituides Indians esp Hindus have generally idealistic views of life and believe good guys will win and being good is the way to win. That is due to legacy of India’s independence movement and leaders who were by and large idealists. OTOH international power politics is anything but idealistic. This includes slogans like Freedom, Democracy , Umma, Culture etc and other nice sounding slogans. Pakistan may shed tons of tears for muslims all over the world, when it comes to Uyghurs they shut up completely . They will ask taliban also to shut up and deport all Uyghurs. I think Pakistan undestands and operates strategic relationships better.

  5. Owaisi is a religious supremacist who yearns for the era of dharmic people living under the yoke of Radical Islamic subjugation. He is the anthropomorphization of the very idea of “ghazwa e hind.” His heroes are the genocidal razakars of the Nawab. He is disliked for good reason. His articulate speeches only make him more dangerous.

    Pak picks the right super powers to ally with. They are 2/2 on that one.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure. You have to understand Indian Muslims and the current government’s idiotic policies to understand his politics. He is popular because there is no one to speak on behalf of Indian Muslims in Central India today and he does. His brother was jailed for his speeches unlike Hindu Nats. I don’t agree with his position on Muslim Personal Law, Tasleema Nasreen and stuff but he is right about other issues. Also, his party’s MP’s and MLAs are well educated people. I think its good to have a well educated, conservative Muslim MP in India. He always looks out for India’s interests and speaks up for Dalits and Adivasis. He was also given the ‘Sansad Ratna’ which is an honor for the best MP in India. Obviously, people from the BJP respect him. So should we.

  6. As a human being, it is terrible to see an entire country being set aside like this, especially given its condition and its history. Institutions like the UN are ineffectual and in any society the weakest are the worst victims of ineffective institutions.

    Regarding Indian opinions, I would contend that most of us have mixed feelings. Our own national project has been quite successful, integrating diverse linguistic and religious groups. In that sense, we can sense that we can be an example for countries like Afghanistan. Our work in Afghanistan was informed by this sense, the Parliament building especially.

    But realistically, we dont have much hard power in either military or economic terms. So there is a sense of resignation. Strategically, we have blundered. Of all involved parties, we knew Pakistan would strike back via the Taliban. We should have spent our $ 3 billion countering that inevitability, raising costs for the Taliban and Pakistan, we just dont know how to play these games.

  7. There are no ‘Indian’ camps/views on Afghanistan, what we have is , ‘how can we use events in Afghanistan for internal Indian matters’ .

    India shouldnt touch Afghanistan with a barge pole. As someone said correctly, its a land of ‘enormous collateral damage and no benefits’

  8. Indian soft power has traction in Afghanistan. All but the most indoctrinated Taliban will listen to Bollywood songs and watch Bollywood videos on their phones. I doubt that is going to to change.

    India will get shut out of the Afghan economy because of Pakistani influence on the Taliban right now. Taliban regime is going to soon realize that they need foreign aid and trade.

    Indians expect even a Taliban controlled Afghanistan to chafe at Pakistani “guidance”. India just needs to wait in the wings and continue to nurture low key engagement with the new regime.

    I wonder if India could have maintained a small diplomatic presence in Kabul. Would this have facilitated dialog with the Taliban. Perhaps the potential downside of diplomats being taken hostage or Indian security forces guarding the consulate being attacked was too great.

    1. “ I wonder if India could have maintained a small diplomatic presence in Kabul. Would this have facilitated dialog with the Taliban. “

      Folks who have no skin in the game like retired diplomats and international affair experts have been saying the same. But politicians know better. It’s their head on the line.

  9. I don’t see any Afghan government, Taliban or not, which will overall benefit India in the long run — the Islamism is too deep in that region, besides some nationalistic flares there is not much that will be done against Pakistan most likely. That being said, a rise in global Islamism, especially with the image that Taliban provokes, might stir something in the Indian Muslim community. Who knows

  10. Random question, do Pashtuns wear something similar to the Sindhi topi? The one with the cut out in the front? I’ve heard that some Baloch do. The reason to ask is that if you look at the footage of the Taliban in Kabul, am seeing quite a few young guys wearing these and speculating on what it means.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sindhi_cap

    1. Yes the southern ones do. Recently there was a controversy where the Sindhi cap was renamed as Kandahari cap on Wikipedia by some Afghan nationalists and Sindhi nationalists were up in arms over it.

      1. Sindhi and Pashtun nationalists, what a bizzare bunch. LOL

        I guess in Pakistani version of the show Family man, they will ally with each other to take on the nationalist Punjabis..

  11. So far Pakistan got military and other aid from the US and west by pointing the gun at it’s own head. Now pakistan will make sure Afghanistan also joins the game by pointing a gun at it’s own head

  12. Genuine question, is there any interest in India in backing Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud in the Panjsher Valley? It doesn’t seem like the war is lost quite yet. India could flex its muscles on the global stage by taking over where America left off.

    1. The flexing will come at a cost, which Indians arent willing to provide.

      With Russians not backing either Uzbek or Tajiks this time around, it would be difficult for any country ,let alone India, to have lines of communication to the Valley.

    2. If there is any interest , it will be kept in the dark. Countries side with the winners in a civil war. If the northern alliance can go on it’s own steam for some months and ger some territory, then more help can be forthcoming. So, taliban would like to crush them completely either by offering some incentives like govt seat or military solution

    3. I think anybody who thinks that the folks in Panjshir have any chance whatsoever of countering the Taliban are smoking whatever they grow in that country. It’s almost certain that those guys will be wiped out pretty soon. Foreign support may keep them afloat, but only a little while longer, and it’ll be for a futile cause. Further, if we provide such support, it’ll give the Taliban a casus belli to resume what they did back in the 90s; send militants our way with the enthusiastic support of the ISI.

      1. Plus we forget that with all the logistics help and Massoud brilliance, he was controlling 10 percent of Afghanistan, and all the other N-Alliance leaders had fled or made a deal with Taliban. Had not for american intevention , N-Alliance would have collapsed in some years.

        The Taliban Casus belli is a seperate matter. I think they will revert back to being Indian foes regardless. There is nothing much India can offer, which will make them do otherwise.

  13. i guess the fundamental dilemma that americans need to resolve themselves is do they want to be an imperial power or do they not. oftentimes we have seen that whenever america launches a new war (which incidentally is quite often) , within a few months into the war a clamor grows back home to bring-our troops home. well, if america wants to be an imperial power, then it will have to station its soldiers in far flung places around the world *indefinitely*. empires are retained by boots on the ground. you cant keep your soldiers safely at home and still keep an empire.

    and if america doesnt want to be an imperial power, it has no business launching wars all over the world, toppling regimes and dropping democracy from the skies using drones and missiles. for e.g., there was really no need to stay put in afg after bin-laden was hunted down. nor there was any point in staying on in iraq after saddam was overthrown. ( come to think of it, there was no point in going into iraq in the first place).

    so to be or not to be is the question.

    1. “i guess the fundamental dilemma that americans need to resolve themselves is do they want to be an imperial power or do they not”

      IMO USA is very definitely not an imperial power in the traditional sense of the word.

      However the very nature of imperial control has also changed. Collecting land revenue which requires physically holding territory is not important for USA’s tech driven economy as it was in the medieval period. Even having a captive market enforced by its armed forces as was the case with British empire is not important. All that is needed is having an open market for USA’s goods and services.

      Thats why holding Afghanistan indefinitely doesn’t make sense of USA. If Afghanistan was strategically important, with multiple payoffs for USA and a very high downside risk eg like West Germany, USA would have wanted to stay indefinitely.

      Afghanistan just doesn’t offer anything for the effort one has to put into it.

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