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US Taliban Peace deal

2020 MAR 1

Mains   > International relations   >   India and Neighbours   >   India & Central Asia


The United States signed a deal with the Taliban that sets the stage to end America’s longest war-the nearly two-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan that began after the 9/11 attacks.


  • Ceasefire: Taliban and the Afghan government have vowed not to militarily attack each other as U.S. troops withdraw.
  • Troops Withdrawal: The USA has committed to withdraw its 12,800 forces from Afghanistan within 14 months, with the first 5,000 to be withdrawn in 135 days from the signing of the deal.
  • Counter terrorism assurance: Taliban will not allow any of its members or individuals, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
  • Removal of sanctions: UN sanctions on Taliban leaders to be removed by three months and US sanctions by August 27.
  • Prisoner Release: Both sides have agreed to release persons held captive by them.



  • The US is eager for such a deal, as it will allow them to extract itself from a stalled war and save the huge resources poured into Afghanistan.
  • The deal has indirectly legitimized the Taliban’s claims over Afghan and alters the balance of power in their favor. Hence, they will be enthusiastic to uphold the deal.
  • The deal proposes a number of talks that would continue well into the future between the U.S., Taliban, and the government of Afghanistan. Hence, it could avert any future conflicts.


  • The Afghan government has not been made a party of the deal. They have long objected to the deal and are unlikely to comply with it.
  • There are no specific verification and enforcement mechanisms. Without these measures, aspirational Taliban commitments will be impossible to address.
  • The Taliban does not recognize the legitimacy, or existence, of the current Afghan government. Hence, power sharing after US retreat remains ambiguous, which could eventually lead to further unrests.  
  • The Taliban is not reliable. It consists of highly factious groups and lacks the discipline to implement the agreement in its true spirit.  
  • The Taliban has made no promise of a comprehensive ceasefire. It has expressed no remorse of al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks and continues to exert violence against innocent civilians, which questions its commitment towards the deal.
  • The void left by US retreat, coupled with the weak Afghan forces, could provide breeding grounds for militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.


  • Undermines Afghan’s elected government: The Afghan government, which has objected to such a deal for long, is not a party to the deal. This indirectly legitimizes the Taliban’s claims and hence alters the balance of power in favor of the Taliban.
  • Void left by the US: With their sudden retreat, the US will leave a huge void in the region. This void is going to be potentially filled by the Taliban, Pakistan and China, all of which is detrimental to India’s interests. Also, it could provide safe havens for various anti-India terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Intensification of terrorism against India: The deal states that Taliban will not attack the US and its allies. However, India is not a recognized ally of the US nor does it differentiate between good and bad taliban. Hence, the Pak military-backed Taliban can pose serious threats to India’s strategic, security and political interests. Also, Afghanistan had been a prominent producer of opium among the Golden Crescent, which is a major internal security challenge for India.
  • Questions Indian investments: India has invested considerable resources in Afghanistan's development. An increased political and military role for the Taliban and the expansion of its territorial control should be of great concern to these investments, since the Taliban is widely believed to be a protégé of Islamabad.


  • Only under an extremely optimistic scenario would the intra-Afghan negotiations produce a reasonably stable settlement within 14 months.
  • However, two extreme possibilities can still emerge in Afghanistan from this deal. The worst-case scenario is the Taliban going back to its pre-9/11 terror ways. The best-case scenario is a Taliban-led multi-ethnic coalition government on the Iranian political model. India should prepare for both the cases.
  • Many have argued that New Delhi should shed its inhibitions to support the agreement, engage with the Taliban, and become part of the peace process to get the best for the people of Afghanistan.
  • To prepare for the worst-case scenario, should be open to engagement non-Taliban ethnic groups and strengthen ties with Afghan’s neighbors such as Iran and the Central Asian republics. India must also actively participate in the India-China-Afghanistan trilateral economic projects as agreed upon at Wuhan in 2018.
  • The Afghan peace process should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled. India with its economic clout and soft power can still be a major player in Afghanistan. But for that to happen, India will have to come to terms with the new reality.


Q. The new realities in Afghanistan complicates India’s relations with the region. Examine?