Withdrawal of US Troops from Afghanistan

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.