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International Relations

Withdrawal of US Troops from Afghanistan

  • 24 Nov 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

America's latest plan to speed up the withdrawal of more troops from Afghanistan may jeopardize the fragile peace process underway in Afghanistan.

Key Points

  • India’s Stand:
    • India has been concerned that the Afghan peace process and premature withdrawal of NATO/US coalition forces could leave opportunities for terrorist networks that could target both Afghanistan and India.
    • As recently as May of this year, the UN issued a report providing evidence that despite assurances from the Taliban to the United States, Al Qaeda is still present and active in Afghanistan, harboured by the Taliban.
      • In India, Al Qaeda continues to run a propaganda campaign that seeks to capitalise on differences between the Hindu majority and Muslim minority.
    • At a recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting, convened under the Arria Formula (informally convened at the request of a UNSC member), India called for an “immediate comprehensive ceasefire” in Afghanistan, while welcoming all opportunities to bring peace to the country.
      • India also described its reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan over the last nearly two decades.
      • According to India, for durable peace in Afghanistan, there is a need to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line (in reference to Pakistan).
        • The Durand Line is the international 2,670 km land border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in South-Central Asia.
    • India outlined four requirements for peace and stability in Afghanistan:
      • First, the process had to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
      • Second, there must be zero tolerance for terrorism.
      • Third, the gains of the last two decades cannot be lost.
        • In particular, India is convinced that the rights of women need to be strongly protected. Further, the rights of the minorities and the vulnerable need to be safeguarded.
        • India has invested heavily in various Infrastructure projects in the region, for example - Zaranj Delaram Highway, Afghan Parliament etc.
      • Fourth, the transit rights of Afghanistan should not be used by countries “to extract political price from Afghanistan”.
        • A reference to Pakistan obstructing the flow of persons and materials outside of Afghanistan, impacting, for instance, India-Afghanistan trade.
    • India assured Afghanistan of its support in its quest for peace during India’s UNSC term.
      • India’s two year term on the non-permanent seat will begin on 1st January 2021.
  • China’s Stand:
    • China has called on foreign troops to leave Afghanistan in an orderly and responsible manner, give terrorist forces no breathing space and contribute to Afghanistan peace and reconciliation process.
    • China is concerned that the war-torn country Afghanistan, which shares borders with the volatile Xinjiang province of China, could become a breeding ground for Uighur Muslim militants.
      • Uighur is a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group. They are primarily confined in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang and is one of the largest Muslim group in that region.
      • China insists that Uighur militants are waging a violent campaign for an independent state by plotting bombings, sabotage, and civic unrest.
      • China has faced international criticism over allegations that it is holding over a million people, mostly ethnic Uyghurs, in internment camps in Xinjiang to curb religious extremism.
    • USA's withdrawal also coincides with its move to lift the ban on the Uighur militant group - the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
      • China is averse to ETIM, an al-Qaeda backed militant group regrouping in Afghanistan to carry out attacks in Xinjiang.
      • ETIM was designated as a terrorist organisation by the UN's 1267 counter-terrorism committee in 2002 for its alleged association with al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
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