Indian Decade

Taliban Rebuff

Hours after Barack Obama’s visit to Afghanistan, the Taliban struck. It’s not a good omen for the country.

The Taliban’s latest demonstration of its strike anywhere anytime capability came earlier this week when it conducted multiple bombings, claiming at least seven lives, hours after U.S. President Barrack Obama paid an unannounced visit to Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s latest attack demonstrated a growing sophistication and should be of concern for Indian policymakers with the U.S. intention to pull out in 2014. Indeed, earlier this week, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne warned that the Taliban was inching toward an attack on India.

To prevent this happening, India has sought to bolster the current Afghan government through various measures such as investing $3.2 billion in Afghanistan, including four hallmark construction projects: the Delaram-Zaranj road, transmission lines providing Uzbek electricity to Kabul, the hydroelectric Salma Dam and a new parliament building in Kabul.

This isn’t the first time that the Taliban, likely aided by the notorious Pakistan-based Haqqani Network, has attempted to carry out a strike during a sensitive period for the U.S. and Afghanistan. Regardless, though, the latest move showed the Taliban can stockpile huge amounts of explosives and penetrate fiercely guarded locations in the capital.

From the Taliban’s perspective, the attacks will be seen as a fitting rebuff to Obama’s signing of a strategic partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, something which may mean little with the scheduled U.S. withdrawal.

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It’s not without significance that more than a decade after the U.S. moved into Afghanistan that top U.S. officials must visit the country in complete secrecy. Obama’s visit to Afghanistan seems more like window-dressing for the upcoming presidential elections than of long-term strategic meaning.