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Ominous emergence of China-Pakistan-Afghanistan axis: Former Foreign Minister

23 Sep 2021

Press release on the geopolitics session

There is an ominous regional implication of the recent developments in Afghanistan - the emergence of China-Pakistan-Afghanistan axis, according to Dr Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament and former foreign minister. "This has created a major challenge for Indian security and diplomacy," he said at the 48th National Management Convention of All India Management Association (AIMA).

Dr Tharoor pointed out that the Taliban regime has inherited a government which depended on the US and others for 80% of its budget, and now it would be willing to look at China for money. He also rued the fact that the highways, dams, electricity grid, schools, hospitals and parliament premise built by India in Afghanistan at a cost of $3 billion now belong to Taliban, a regime with which India's historic experience has been very unpleasant.

Mr Claude Smadja, President, Smadja & Smadja Strategic Advisory warned India's policy makers about relying too much on the US. He argued that the US administration is not looking for partners but only for agents in its strategy of resisting China. "These agents are the middle powers - UK, Australia and India," he said. Mr Smadja pointed out that earlier the US had kept India out of its talks with Taliban in Doha and now it has concluded an alliance with the UK and Australia, which has implications for India. "Even in the Quad, India stands alone," he insisted. Mr Smadja argued that while India needs an alliance with the US, it must consider how far it should go in aligning itself with the US.

Dr Tharoor said that there is a common interest between the US and India, as the US appears to have concluded that China is its global adversary that must be resisted and India is at the receiving end of Chinese aggression.

Regarding the Quad, Dr Tharoor said that the Quad is a maritime alliance for the Indo-Pacific region and Japan, Australia and even US are not relevant to India's land-based challenges. "India is looking at Quad more as a shield than a sword," he said.

Mr Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies, Center for Policy Research and Fellow, Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin moderated the session. He said that the reliability of the US will now be debated a lot in India despite the fact that India's Prime Minister was in Washington for a deal to expand India-US partnership.

Regarding the Taliban's reclaiming of Afghanistan, Mr Chellaney said that now a terrorist militia was in power and it had become the first terrorist organization to acquire advanced land and air capability because the US forces left behind a lot of advanced weaponry.

Dr Tharoor reminded that the last time the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, India had worked with Iran and Russia to contain the Taliban but this time Russia is a fellow traveller of China and Iran has a new hardline regime which would be sympathetic to Taliban unless they trouble Afghanistan's Shia minority.

Mr Smadja questioned the honesty of the west's concerns about human rights violations since it has kept quiet about the atrocities committed by the new Taliban regime. He argued that the west was feeling helpless after the withdrawal from Afghanistan because it has any levers to pressure the Taliban into behaving differently. He argued that sanctions would not work on Taliban because they are fanatics and only the Afghan population will suffer.

Mr Sanjay Kirloskar, Convention Chairman and Chairman & Managing Director, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, said that the chaotic retreat of the US-led coalition from Afghanistan and the re-capture of the country by Talibans are considered by many as a decisive point in America's waning appetite and capacity to be the world's order keeper. "With America wanting to go home, the world seems to be entering a phase of power struggle among the has beens and the wanna be hegemons," he said.

The session was attended by many thousand delegates of the National Management Convention and continues to get excellent inline traction

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