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Blinken Finds Common Ground With India on Afghanistan

Brittany Jordan

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NEW DELHI—Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken visited India for the first time on July 27 and 28 and discussed with the Indian administration many global issues of common interest, including the situation unfolding in Afghanistan.

Geo-political analysts told The Epoch Times that the statements from both sides reflect the common thinking India and the United States share on Afghanistan and the role the two countries are set to play against authoritarian powers.

“He has conveyed very, very clearly the thinking of the United States administration on the subject. I mean, the threat that Afghanistan and India face, both these countries face from the combination of Pakistan, and China,” Prof. Madhav Nalapat, a geopolitical analyst and the vice-chair  of the Manipal advanced research group, told The Epoch Times over the phone. According to his sources, Blinken conveyed some very important messages from President Joe Biden to the Indian administration.

At a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on July 28 Blinken said the United States remains engaged in Afghanistan and continues to support the Ashraf Ghani government through various forms of assistance, including assistance to the security forces and diplomatic support in bringing together the Ghani government and the Taliban in a “meaningful way” to resolve the conflicts.

“And ultimately, an Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people, would become a pariah state. The Taliban says that it seeks international recognition, that it wants international support for Afghanistan. Presumably, it wants its leaders to be able to travel freely in the world, sanctions lifted, et cetera,” said Blinken in reply to a question of whether the U.S. government has done enough to pressure Pakistan over its support for the Taliban.

“Well, the—taking over the country by force and abusing the rights of its people is not the path to achieve those objectives. There’s only one path, and that’s at the negotiating table to resolve the conflict peacefully and to have an Afghanistan emerge that is governed in a genuinely inclusive way and that’s representative of all its people,” he said.

The Ghani government has repeatedly accused Pakistan of training, financing, and supporting the Taliban terrorists.

“We have accurate intelligence reports that more than 10,000 Pakistani have entered Afghanistan from Pakistan while another 15,000 are encouraged to come. This shows that a regular institution is training and financing Taliban,” a spokesperson of President Ghani said in a video message sent to media, reported Asian News International (ANI) on July 31.

A nine-member Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s co-founder and head of its political commission, met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on July 28 and Yi called the U.S. withdrawal as due to the failure of its policy in Afghanistan. The Taliban is “an important military and political force in Afghanistan,” Yi said, and encouraged China to join peace talks.

Blinken in an interview with the Indian news network, CNN News 18, said that a greater role for China in Afghanistan could be a “positive thing.”

“No one has an interest in a military takeover of the country by the Taliban, the restoration of an Islamic emirate. Everyone has an interest in a peaceful resolution of the conflict and some kind of government that emerges that’s truly representative and inclusive. And so if China is acting on those interests, if other countries are acting on those interests, that’s a positive thing,” he said.

Nalapat however said that Blinken’s visit to India first indicates that both India and the United States want to prevent the domination of the Indo-Pacific by the Chinese Communist Party and its allies.

Second, Nalapat said both countries want “to prevent the spread of extremism, very frankly, which is completely backed by that authoritarian power, the People’s Republic of China,” pointing at the Taliban.

Nalapat said that he’s “very certain” that Blinken was discussing that when an “inevitable attack comes on India, on Afghanistan, how the India and the United States which have some very powerful militaries between the two of them” will coordinate.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and U.S. Ambassador to India Atul Keshap (R), deliver remarks to civil society organization representatives in a meeting room at the Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi on July 28, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Support for Kabul Government

Experts told The Epoch Times that the interaction of the United States and India during Blinken’s New Delhi visit indicates that the two big democracies together support the democratically elected civilian government at Kabul.

Blinken told the press in New Delhi that India and the United States share a strong interest in a peaceful, secure, and stable Afghanistan.

“As a leader and critical partner in the region, India has made and will continue to make vital contributions to Afghanistan’s stability and development, and we’ll continue to work together to sustain the gains of the Afghan people and support regional stability after the withdrawal of coalition forces from the country,” said Blinken.

Enayat Najafizada, Founder and the CEO of the Kabul-based Afghan Institute of War and Peace Studies, told The Epoch Times over the phone that New Delhi wants to coordinate its support to Afghanistan with the United States.

“India has always been a staunch supporter of Afghanistan and the Afghan state. All the support and assistance of India to Afghanistan has always been through the state. It has been a state-to-state relationship at least over the past twenty years since the presence of the international community in Afghanistan,” said Najafizada.

India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said in the joint press conference that Blinken and he specifically discussed Afghanistan and peace negotiations should be taken seriously by all parties involved in Afghanistan currently.

“The world wishes to see an independent, sovereign, democratic, and stable Afghanistan at peace with itself and with its neighbors. But its independence and sovereignty will only be ensured if it is free from malign influences. Similarly, unilateral imposition of will by any party will obviously not be democratic and can never lead to stability, nor indeed can such efforts ever acquire legitimacy,” said Jaishankar.

During Blinken’s and Jaishankar’s interaction, it was apparent that India notes that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is a “policy prerogative” of the Biden administration, according to Kashish Parpiani, a fellow at Observer Research Foundation’s Mumbai center.

“In the context of the U.S. continued role with an ‘over the horizon’ strategy, India and the U.S. seem to have agreed to continue support for the democratically-elected civilian dispensation in Kabul,” said Parpiani.

Epoch Times Photo
Afghan women cadets march during a training program at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai on Feb. 18, 2021. (Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images)

Military Support for Kabul

Experts said there’s a likelihood of India lending supporting to the Afghan airforce and also continuing to provide training to the Afghan National Army.

India has offered a helping hand to the Afghan government and to the Afghan national and defense security forces, according to Najafizada.

“The Afghan Army Chief of staff was scheduled to travel to Delhi to discuss with Indian authorities what kind of support Afghanistan needs and what kind of support India can offer. As I have heard from several sources, Afghanistan needs a lot of support on air capabilities, given that airpower gives the Afghan forces on the ground an upper hand,” he said. India is very concerned about the advances made by Taliban in Afghanistan, he said, and will join like-minded powers to halt these advances.

Nalapat said he’s very happy that the western forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan because they are not needed there—Afghans are a proud people and they don’t need any foreign forces on their soil.

“What is needed is weapons. What is needed is, data, intel. What is needed is logistical support. And then what is needed is financial support. The Europeans and Japanese are giving financial support. The Americans are providing logistical, intel, and weapons support. And if I may say so the Afghan National Army will take care of the manpower requirements with training by the Indian Army,” said Nalapat adding that India will not send its soldiers to fight.

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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