Two decades of US presence in Afghanistan may have ended with the return of the Taliban after a disastrous troop withdrawal, but it can’t be denied that it created at least some aspirations about gender rights and dignity among Afghans that the Taliban won’t be able to entirely suppress now, however brutally they may attempt it. This is small consolation, no doubt, but it is not nothing.
For India, one of the more unfortunate aspects of the recent developments is that it once again illustrates New Delhi’s lack of much influence in Afghanistan. Indians, including former and current officials, can claim that because India was not involved, this was not India’s defeat, there are two problems with that reasoning.
The first is: why was India not involved? It doesn’t say much about India’s strategy or power if it does not have any influence in its own region. New Delhi has been a passive bystander because it has not acted to shape the environment, leaving Rawalpindi to do so.