India Figures Prominently In US’ Troop Withdrawal Plan From Afghanistan — Reports

India has reportedly been offered a larger role in the Biden administration’s roadmap to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The US President has set a fresh deadline to end what is called America’s longest war on terror.

On April 14, Biden announced that the US would complete the withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn country by September 11, which would mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that triggered the war in Afghanistan.

According to Hindustan Times, Washinton is looking forward to India’s greater role in Afghanistan. The US and NATO troop pullout is now expected to begin before May 1.

Biden said, “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,

“We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives,” Biden said adding, “Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war…It is time for American troops to come home.”

The announcement came more than a year after the United States and the Taliban signed a comprehensive peace agreement, better known as the Doha Agreement

According to the White House, before making the public announcement, Biden spoke to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday wherein he assured that “the United States will continue to support the Afghan people, including through continued development, humanitarian, and security assistance.”

While the CIA director told the US Senate Intelligence Committee that the withdrawal will diminish Washington’s ability to collect and act on threats, Biden has chosen to keep the withdrawal “non-conditional”.

India’s Role

The Biden administration’s intention of working actively to bring back peace and stability in the region is driven by the idea of unified participation by neighboring countries such as India, Pakistan, Turkey, China, and Russia. While India was not present at the 2019-20 Afghan peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy, traveled to New Delhi frequently to ensure New Delhi’s passive participation.

We’ll ask other countries in the region – to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey,” Biden said. “They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan.”

Pakistan’s shared border with Afghanistan gives the country a scope to get its own way. Although it is mostly Pakistan that is blamed for India’s absence on the Afghan peace table, India’s growing importance on the world stage has its neighbor irked.

India has strengthened its bond with the Afghan government and the people with its constant financial assistance, training the military, investments in multiple projects related to education and infrastructure development. 

People familiar with the India-US ties told Hindustan Times that Biden has been pulling India closer to Afghanistan but wanted to see how it would work in the longer term.

“The Biden administration is clearly looking for a greater role for India in Afghanistan’s future than previous administrations,” Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the US, told HT.

“Question is, how will they (the Biden administration) persuade Pakistan and India to accept each other’s or even America’s vision?” he added.

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