The first meeting between the Afghan Taliban and India External Affairs Ministry officials in Kabul since August last year when the former took over the control of Afghanistan can be seen as the building of a ‘new regional narrative’ either to counter Pakistan’s influence or to re-establish ties with a neighboring state. India has no diplomatic ties with the new Afghan government neither it has acknowledged legitimacy of the Taliban’s rule, yet it has intentions of building a relationship with the Afghan Taliban. The fresh engagement indicates that the Indian government has certain vested interests. So far, New Delhi has spent billions of dollars on infrastructure and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan after the previous Taliban regime was toppled in a US-led invasion in 2001, which they cannot see go wasting after the regime change. This time too, the Indian side has approached the Afghan Taliban with the offer of extending humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan as it had dispatched 20,000 metric tons of wheat and 13 tons of medicines to Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been facing repeated economic shocks, political crises, and a series of environmental disasters such as drought, which have left more than 24 million people requiring life-saving assistance to prevent famine. Therefore, the Afghan Taliban are welcoming any international help or assistance irrespective of their differences with the donor countries.
Indian interest also lies in discouraging possible onslaught of terror activities as Afghanistan has been a hotbed of militancy and any spillover of terrorists or their use can cause serious damage to the national integrity of India. Moreover, there are some other attractions for India in Afghanistan in the form of natural resources. Afghanistan provides a route for channeling energy resources from Russia to India. Hence it is in the interest of India to build good relations with the present rulers in Afghanistan. On its part, Pakistan should not perceive Indian engagement with Afghanistan as a danger. Rather, it should encourage the participation of a neighbouring state in rebuilding of war-torn Afghanistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the interests of all regional states and they should not leave any opportunity to miss this chance as a stakeholder. Both India and Pakistan need to extend their influence over the Afghan Taliban and convince them to abandon their extreme views and policies while dealing with the Afghan nation, who has become sick of repeated wars and economic crises.