Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan was anticipated, but the timeline of the group’s fast-paced spread in the country had surprised India.
“Everything that has happened was something that had been anticipated...only the timelines have changed....” Rawat said during an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation. “From the Indian perspective, we were anticipating the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. We were concerned about how the terrorist activity from Afghanistan could overflow into India.”
Rawat added that there had been a “contingency plan” in place to prevent any terrorist activity making its way into India as the authorities had anticipated the takeover of the Taliban.
He added that there was a global war on terrorism. “As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we will make sure that any activity likely to flow out of Afghanistan and then find its way into India will be dealt with in the manner in which we have been dealing with terrorism in our country,” said Rawat.
The chief of defence staff also urged the Quad nations, comprising India, the United States, Japan, and Australia, to help with any support in “at least identifying the terrorists and getting some intelligence input”.
Thousands of Afghan citizens are desperately trying to escape the country after the Taliban’s return to power. Over the last few days, distressing visuals showed people pursuing aircraft on the runway and clinging to planes even as they prepared for takeoff. The videos are from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The United States and its allies are overseeing the massive effort to evacuate Afghans as well as their citizens from Afghanistan. President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that the since August 14, the US has helped with the evacuation of 70,000 people from Afghanistan.
US allies have also reportedly sought an extension of the evacuation deadline so that more people can be flown out of Afghanistan. But Biden remains firm on the August 31 deadline to pullout troops of the country. The Taliban has also asked countries to maintain the timeline of the exit of foreign soldiers.
‘Sovereignty on the Line of Actual Control’
United States’ Indo-Pacific Command chief Admiral John Aquilino, who was also part of the session, spoke about the difficulties faced by India with “sovereignty on the Line of Actual Control”. He was referring to the standoff with China along the border with the country in Ladakh.
Aquilino also spoke about the problems in the Indo-Pacific region, and highlighted that it was the most significant location in terms of future events.
“The attack on the rules-based international order that allows freedom of navigation for all is certainly one of the most critical challenges,” the American official said, according to NDTV.
In May 2020, Chinese troops clashed with the Indian Army at several points along the Line of Actual Control. India and China do not share a defined and demarcated border. Instead, there is the Line of Actual Control, which stretches thousands of kilometres from Ladakh all the way to Arunachal Pradesh.
Tensions between India and China escalated further after the violent face-off on June 15, 2020. The two countries have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the matter.