Taliban praise for India indicates changing equations, feel observers

NEW DELHI, June 18:
Though US is visualising an increasing role for India in Afghanistan as it prepares for draw down of its security forces, and copes with its deteriorating ties with Pakistan, India would be playing its role with a caution in the country.
The unexpected Taliban praise for India that came yesterday recognises the limits that India places itself on it while delving into Afghanistan, observers here feel.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said India has done well to resist US pressure for greater involvement in Afghanistan.
Scholars keeping watch on developments in the region feel that by softening its stance towards India, Taliban is addressing both the international and the domestic constituency.
“First they want to show to the international community that they were not going to act just as blind hardliners and would be playing their role with responsibility after the US-led Western forces withdraw in 2014, and secondly that they also want to please their domestic constituency by praising India for resisting the US pressure.”
Their remarks on India also indicate they might be sending a message to Pakistan that they might take an independent course if they want to.
There is also a view that that the Taliban softening of stance
towards India could be afterall part of the overall progression that was being achieved in the talks with the US that are taking place in the third country.
The Strategic Dialogue between India and US that concluded in Washington last week has clearly indicated the trajectory of India-US cooperation in Afghanistan. Besides the role that India is playing in the development of infrastructure in Afghanistan, the US wants it to go more into strengthening the capacity of security forces to take command of the situation when the NATO forces withdraw from the country in 2014.
Their decision to hold a trilateral dialogue with the Government of Afghanistan is significant. The two countries have already sighed separate Strategic Partnership agreement with Afhanistan.
A joint statement after the India-US strategic dialogue said the two countries “intend to seek new opportunities to intensify their consultation, coordination and cooperation to promote a stable, democratic, united, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.
They intend to explore opportunities to work together to promote Afghanistan’s development, including in areas such as agriculture, mining, energy, capacity building and infrastructure,” the joint statement said.
The Taliban are watching all this with interest, and by praising the present Indian role, they might be creating a greater accpetability for India in their home constituency, so as to enjoy greater leverage with Pakistan, and at the same time suggesting to India to not to go beyond a certain point, feel the observers.