Kolkata: India should not get militarily involved in Afghanistan, former IAF chief Arup Raha said on Monday, warning that China and Pakistan will burn their fingers by cosying up to the Taliban.
The former Indian Air Force (IAF) air chief marshal said that the Taliban policy of China and Pakistan will backfire on them as a result of their “dishonest purposes” for getting involved in Afghanistan.
“I don’t think India should put the boots on the ground there and get into trouble. Military involvement in Afghanistan is dangerous, and India should not be a part of any such future move of the Americans or NATO forces,” Raha told PTI in an interview.
Reminding the adage about Afghanistan that it is the “Graveyard of Empires”, the former IAF chief said that the United States of America (USA) had lost more than 2,000 troops in the country between 2001 and 2021.
Raha, who led the IAF from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2016, said that with the USA having vacated strategically important Afghanistan, which shares borders with several central Asian nations, countries like China, Pakistan and even Russia feel that they will “have a nice time” in the region.
“There is no possibility of that happening as the Taliban is not going to listen to any of them. China is trying to appease them by offering them money in the name of development,” Raha, a former chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces, asserted.
He said that the Chinese are wary of the possibility of the Taliban getting involved in Xinjiang province and infiltrate its Jihadi culture there, where the communist country has allegedly “mistreated the Uyghur Muslims and suppressed and oppressed them”.
“Within two to five years, China will feel the heat of Jihadi movement in Xinjiang, which shares its borders with Afghanistan. China will face huge trouble; they already have problems in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. They will have their hands full. In two to five years, there will be utter chaos as far as the Taliban is concerned,” he said.
Dismissing the Taliban leadership’s claims that they have changed and are a softer version of their previous self, Raha said they are “barbaric and will do what they have been taught to”.
Soon after the blitzkrieg takeover of Kabul by the Taliban following the exit of US forces, China was among the first countries to say that it stands ready to develop good neighbourly, friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan.
A Taliban delegation, led by the chief of its Political Commission Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, which visited China last month during its talks with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, had promised not to permit the Uyghur Muslim militant group from Xinjiang, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), to operate from Afghanistan.
Within hours of Kabul’s fall on August 15, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Afghan people had “broken the shackles of slavery”.
Raha said that with organisations like the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan being active in the country, the establishment in Islamabad is likely to face a challenge if the Taliban consolidates in Afghanistan.
He said that the Afghan people have good strength and weaponry but are not ready to fight back against the Taliban.
“I don’t think outsiders should get involved too much, let the Afghans fight for their freedom and decide what they want to do and how they want to live,” he said.
Questioning why the western world should decide their way of life, Raha said it is not right and claimed that the West got involved in Afghanistan for their own interest, including business, industry, and the powerful arms lobby in the USA.