Afghan army chief Lieutenant General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai postponed a three-day visit to India originally due to begin today.
New Delhi and Kabul have forged a close relationship since 2011, when the two signed a strategic partnership agreement focusing on security and capacity building in development. India—which actively supports President Ashraf Ghani’s government—is Afghanistan’s largest regional donor and fifth biggest donor globally.
Today’s visit would have come as regional powers increase their spheres of influence following the US’ withdrawal. In June, India admitted that it entered into backchannel communications with the Taliban after publicly avoiding dialogues with the group.
Ahmadzai likely would have used the trip to seek Indian support in countering the Taliban, most likely by requesting previously provided assistance like logistical advising and military equipment shipments. As India’s infrastructure investments in Afghanistan total nearly $3 billion, New Delhi will likely agree to protect its interests. Yet, Ahmadzai’s faces an uphill battle in maintaining Indian support as the Taliban makes gains. The opening of communications with the group signals India recognizes the Taliban evolution into a more powerful player. In the medium-term, expect India to begin encouraging Ghani’s government to enter into more sustained negotiations with the Taliban, as India prioritizes maintaining regional stability.
Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.