India’s stake in the Afghanistan conflict

A map of areas controlled by the Taliban and Islamic State in Afghanistan, as well as NATO bases
The Taliban still have control over much of Afghanistan. Keeping them out of power and thereby limiting Pakistan’s influence is one of India’s main goals (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • India wants to limit Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan
  • A continued U.S. military presence there is uncertain
  • Russia and Iran are using the Taliban to undermine the U.S.
  • India will continue to support the Kabul government through nonmilitary means

India’s government was among those most pleased when United States President Donald Trump announced in August last year that his country was recommitting itself to fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Preventing the restoration of Taliban rule in Kabul has been the cornerstone of India’s Afghanistan policy for the past 16 years. Its unspoken goal is reducing the influence of Pakistan, India’s regional rival and the Taliban’s main external supporter.

However, the latest chapter in Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict is geopolitically fuzzier than before. The U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan remains weak – President Trump is the leading skeptic in his administration.

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