This Article is From May 21, 2013

Endgame Afghanistan: living in the fear of the Taliban

Kabul: Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is in India to seek economic cooperation but the focus this time is likely to be on security.

The Afghan MPs, Opposition leaders, former intelligence chiefs and police commissioners have told NDTV that they want more than developmental aid from India.

They would like India to player a much bigger role post-2014, when Western troops will exit Afghanistan completely, to provide security to the country. Even though Indian boots on the ground at the moment is out, there is a lot that India could help with in training and providing military equipment.

The focus on security comes from the fear of the return of the Taliban amongst the Afghans.

Currently, 3,52,000 Afghan national soldiers are guarding the country but the people continue to fear the Taliban's return.

We met a young government official, who wants to stay anonymous. He comes from Wardak, a Taliban stronghold. "My village is very beautiful but I can't go home. Taliban will kill me. I am very afraid, what should I do in future if the Taliban came and take Kabul, they will kill me. That's why I want to run away to a different country."

Working with the government is the biggest offence in the eyes of the Taliban. He says his friends, fellow villagers, have turned into enemies. "The Taliban are punishing the young boys, they say don't go to school, just you must go to the Pakistan and the Pakistan's Taliban train them and send them back to our village. These young boys are waiting to bomb blast beside the road, they are waiting, yes. Just they are waiting for their handlers to order them to blow themselves up. They are told by the Taliban, if they die they will go to the paradise and will be martyred."

Ninety nine per cent of his village is either under the Taliban's control or supports them. "Our village, we have 2 parts, 1 belongs to the government of Afghanistan and the other to the Taliban, they have commanders and Governor."

The Taliban is running a proxy government calling it the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. For propaganda, they release updated videos of suicide bombers. They have a media wing called Al Emarah Jihadi Studio that comes under their 'ministry of culture- promotion of virtue and prevention of vice'. With a full-fledged website, not just in Dari, Pashto and Urdu, but also in English, they put out their vision of Afghanistan and to lure educated young men.

India's bottom line in Afghanistan is to stay engaged but considering Pakistan's India phobia, India is likely to play cautious in terms of security support to Afghanistan.