India concerned about US pullout from Afghanistan: General Bipin Rawat

Lalit K Jha | Updated on: Thursday, April 15, 2021, 11:57 PM IST

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat  | Photo Credit: ANI
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat | Photo Credit: ANI

New Delhi: India is concerned about the vacuum that will be created after withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from war-torn Afghanistan, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday. He said that the main concern should be not to create "space for other disruptors;" India, therefore, wants to see peace and tranquility returning to the region, he added.

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year to end the country's longest war. Following suit, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) said it will also pull out its troops from Afghanistan.

Biden said his administration will ask other countries in the region to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey. "They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan," Biden said.

"We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We'll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do," he said.

But, US experts said regional countries, especially India, will view the complete withdrawal with tremendous concern.

"Regional countries, especially India, will have tremendous concerns about the US pullout from Afghanistan and the likelihood of a Taliban resurgence in the country," Lisa Curtis, who was Deputy Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for South and Central Asia from 2017-2021 under the previous Donald Trump administration, told PTI.

"India will worry about Taliban controlled territory being a safe haven for terrorists again," former Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, who is now Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute think-tank, told PTI.

The real question now is whether after withdrawing its troops, the US will continue to help the government in Kabul and will the Afghan people be able to keep the Taliban at bay, Haqqani said.

"India and Pakistan do not have the luxury of distance that the US has and will remain involved in Afghanistan. Pakistan is too deeply tied to the Taliban to stop supporting them now though it should be concerned about the adverse impact Taliban ideology would further have on Pakistan," Haqqani said in response to a question.

Meanwhile, Biden's decision to wind down America's longest war drew ample criticism on Wednesday from prominent military figures and hawkish Republicans. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, said Biden was canceling "an insurance policy" that "would prevent another 9/11." The Washington Post in a lead editorial asserted that the plans of President Biden to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan will lead to disaster in the region. "Mr Biden has chosen the easy way out of Afghanistan, but the consequences are likely to be ugly," the leading newspaper commented.

The New York Times said that stopping terrorism groups over the long term could be harder, an opinion also echoed by the The Wall Street Journal.

"The symbolic but arbitrary date shows the decision is driven less by facts on the ground than a political desire that is also a strategic gamble. History suggests US interests will suffer," The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

"The president's exit means he will have to take responsibility for what happens next. We hope it doesn't betray the great sacrifices so many have made," it said.

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Published on: Thursday, April 15, 2021, 11:57 PM IST