THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 June 2020 What Kabul Needs(Indian Express)

What Kabul Needs(Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: International Relations 
Prelims level: India- Afghanistan relations
Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests


  • US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called for India’s direct engagement with the Taliban — has created polarizing waves in New Delhi. 
  • The fact that hardly anyone questioned the premise of his proposal shows the new normal in a Trumpian world. 
  • The proposal is being debated between proponentsof Khalilzad’s suggestion and sceptics arguing its pros and cons for India.

Proposals and Sceptics:

  • Evident in the justifications offered by the proponents is the fatalismthat a takeover by the Taliban is inevitable, and hence, the utility of appeasing the new victor. 
  • Khalilzad’s proposal has also benefited from an entrencheddeference to Western authority/wisdom among a segment of Indian pundits and policy-makers.
  • On the other hand, the sceptics draw attention to the complexity and arduous nature of the Afghan conflict. 
  • They argue the need for Delhi to stand its ground in supporting the post-2001 constitutional order — an order that can accommodate the Taliban as a non-violent political stakeholder. 
  • The sceptics are not against talking with the Taliban per se, but they see little value in engaging with a group that remains fully under Pakistan’s tutelage.
  • In line with Delhi’s stated policy of supporting an Afghan-led process, the sceptics recommend following the Afghan government’s lead in engaging with the Taliban.

Manufacturing reality:

  • The Doha agreement between the Taliban and the US has effectively changed the status of the post-2001 constitutional order from “at the table” to an “on the table” new reality.
  • Former Republican strategist’s description of US behaviour can shed light on US’s capacity to manufacture a new reality to suit its interests: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. 
  • And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.” 
  • This imperial entitlement is often supported by other elements. 

Pakistan, an ally to US:

  • If Israel is a key ally of the US, and Iran the chief trouble-maker for Washington in West Asia, Pakistan has been both an Israel and an Iran for the US in South Asia. 
  • Pakistan has been the centrepiece of the US’s South Asia engagement, despite occasional rhetorical admonition and half-baked sanctions.
  • Months before the Soviet intervention in 1979, Washington joined Pakistan in supporting the Mujahideen in toppling the Afghan government through Operation Cyclone. 
  • In 2004, Pakistan was recognised as “major non-Nato ally” of the US. 
  • Concurrently, major Afghanistan-related political, security and defence decisions were made to appease Pakistan’s concerns. These include:
    • downsizing the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces to a paramilitary force,
    • promoting pro-Pakistan officials within the Afghan government and defence/security sectors,
    • limiting India’s role to just a large NGO, and;
    • projecting the Taliban as an independent nationalistic insurgency. 

Three Pillars:

  • Afghanistan will be at peace if and when there are a set of three mutually reinforcing pillars.
    • sustainable state to provide decent public goods to its citizens;
    • inclusive democratic governance; and;
    • a supportive environment to protect Afghanistan’s status as a connector of competing external interests rather than a battlefield for proxies. 
  • A coherent peace process should be based on the four pillars of development, democracy, defence and diplomacy. 
  • Inclusivity has to be recognised as a cross-cutting principle, coupled with a primary role for Afghan ownership and ensuing Afghan responsibility.

Way forward for India:

  • India should play an active role in articulating and promoting a process that leaves Afghanistan at peace. 
  • Despite its structural flaws, the post-2001 constitutional order has the capacity and legitimacy to become the basis for an inclusive peace process. 
  • India must come up with ideas and structures in the fields of development, politics, security and diplomacy. 
  • India can and should champion an inclusive, multifaceted and Kabul-centric peace process. 


  • In a COVID-19-afflicted world and with a looming US presidential election, the aforementioned framework would attract the charge of naivetyand idealism. 
  • However, the alternative would result in an Afghanistan in pieces. 
  • The Afghanistan of 1990s and today’s Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are vivid examples of myopicand partisan policies.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

E-Books Download for UPSC IAS Exams

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the UN Public Service Day 2020, consider the following statements:
1. UN Public Service Day 2020 is being observed on June 23 to honour public servants in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
2. The prestigious UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) are given away on this day by UNDP. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Highlights thepolicies taken by India towards Afghanistan so far. Do you think there is a need of change in India’s Afghan policy? Comment.