In searching for an answer to this question, one has to remember what happened after the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988:
1989: The Afghan Mujahideen, with ISI’s help, tried to have Najibullah’s army defeated at Jalalabad, so that they could set up a base there. They were defeated by Najibullah, who demonstrated the strength of his army.
1992: The Afghan Mujahideen succeeded in overthrowing Najib by taking advantage of a US-encouraged split between Najibullah and Rashid Dostum and setting up their Govt in Kabul.
1994: Naseerullah Babar, Benazir Bhutto’s Interior Minister, promoted the formation of the Taliban in Kandahar to escort Asif Ali Zardari’s cotton convoys from Turkmenistan. The US established secret contacts with the Taliban to secure its support for a gas-oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan being planned by UNOCAL.
1996: The Taliban, with the ISI’s support, overthrew the Mujahideen Government in Kabul and set up its Government.
1996: Ahmed Shah Masood set up his Northern Alliance to counter the Taliban.
1996: Osama bin Laden shifted from Khartoum to Jalalabad and from there to Kandahar where Mulla Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, was based.
1998: bin Laden formed the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People for fighting against the US and Israel.
1998: Al Qaeda carried out explosions outside the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam.US carried out reprisal Cruise missile attacks on Al Qaeda camps in Jalalabad. Not successful.
1999: The US demanded that the Taliban should hand over bin Laden to it. It also demanded that Pakistan should force the Taliban to hand over bin Laden to it. Both the Taliban and Pakistan evaded the US demand
11/9/2001: Al Qaeda carried out its terror strikes in the US homeland.
October, 2001: The US declared its war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda and ordered military action in Afghanistan. The Taliban was overthrown, but Omar and bin Laden crossed over to Pakistan, where they were given shelter by the ISI. The Northern Alliance collaborated with the US in its operations.
The sequence of events mentioned above was due to the following reasons:
What is the position now as the US prepares to thin itself out?
Qualitatively, the ground situation post-2014 will differ from that which prevailed in 1988 as follows:
From 2014, the US will have the limited objective of preventing a come-back by a Neo Al Qaeda that could again pose a threat to the US homeland. The Neo Al Qaeda is presently focusing on Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Africa. After the US thin-out, it might be tempted to re-focus on the Af-Pak region. To prevent this, the US will need a continued capability to maintain a limited ground presence in Afghanistan and operate its fleet of Drones.
What should be India’s options and policies? If the post-1996 events are repeated in Afghanistan, India may again face serious security problems in Jammu & Kashmir and even in hinterland India. To prevent this, Indian policies should be focused on the following:
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter: @SORBONNE75
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
One hopes the modest gains made by Afghan women and girls in terms of employment and education will not be rolled back.
Can 1996 Repeat Itself In Afghanistan?
No. The actors ( USA, Aghhan, Taliban, Pakistan ) are now different with different strenths and weaknesses.
India and Pakistan could realize, that religion is not a point of difference, but of understanding. It seems, Benazir Bhutto is a Muslim, and perhaps Shia and Sunni Muslims visit Ajmer, from Pakistan. The issue of Pakistan seems to be, whether the Shia is relevant, if the Taliban does not believe the Shiite Muslim to so be. The Shia Muslim is very much a part of the armed forces, and of the establishment. Soldiers are selected in Pakistan, regardless of being a Shiite or Sunni Muslim.
The idea of the Muslim not belonging to India, was pretty much redundant when Maulana Azad became a leader of the Congress. He might have migrated to India, and he was, if I am not wrong, a descendant of the Prophet of his religion. He was certainly a Muslim scholar. The issue seems to be, that perhaps the Muslim in U. P., and Bihar constituting a number, were reticent that he wasn't an 'ethnic' Indian, and didn't stay in India long enough, to understand the Muslim community in India. The Hindu in the Congress didn't care about the fact that Maulana Azad had parents from perhaps Damascus, or where the seat of the Caliphate once was represented.
About Kashmir, the idea seems to be represented by an Indian writer, that Pakistan believes Kashmir to be a Muslim majority state, and hence a natural part of Pakistan. Geographically, the west of the Kashmir valley is mountainous. The valley is connected to the plains of India. If the Kashmir valley had been a part of Pakistan, it would have been a logistical nightmare for Pakistan. The Indian subcontinent doesn't perhaps need to make an effort to connect to the valley of Kashmir, as does Pakistan. The south of what would have been Pakistan, would be India, and plains. I mean to say plainly, that it would be impossible for Pakistan to communicate with Kashmir through mountains, when the west of the mountain range is Afghanistan. There would be a narrow mountain range, connecting Pakistan to Kashmir, and a part of a side of the range would be Afghanistan, or China, as it might be.
The Indian Army might withdraw from the borders, but they would only withdraw inland, into the valley. The armies of the respective nations might stop patrolling the Kashmir borders, and make the boundary irrelevant. The issue is, that the Pakistan army cannot withdraw very far. That the area near the boundary is not a priority, seems to have the reason that the Chinese P. L. A. is in the nearabouts, or perhaps is in Pakistan.How important are the mountanous regions of Pakistan, when the Chinese are maintaining security there? It very reasonably could be, that Pakistan wants India to feel, that people are not crossing the border, and the Chinese govt. also wants the same perception, of people not entering Ksahmir from China, and vice versa. Pakistan perhaps feels that the frequent bomb blasts in her territory were because of Indian concern there. How long can differences in religion, be any focal point in the relations between the nations?
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT