12 May, 2021

Opium And Taliban Are Forever!

A few eternal verities pock-mark all the flux in Afghanistan. Policy has to navigate around them.

Opium And Taliban Are Forever!

Kabul in spring: the air is cool and crisp, the fruit trees are in blossom and the surrounding hills, usually a dull, dusty brown, are covered with a pleasant verdure. It is a time of hope and renewal. It was so in 2002 when I reached Kabul to take up my assignment as India’s ambassador to Afghanistan. The Taliban had been ousted, two decades of terrible civil conflict seemed over, a new leadership was in position and the world was ready to help rebuild the Afghan state. The road ahead was difficult and many contradictions needed resolution, but the popular mood was sanguine. A decade later, during a recent visit to Kabul, I found a pall of uncertainty hanging over Kabul though the bazaars were full and the physical infrastructure much improved. Nothing could illustrate the contrast between then and now as the security arrangements of foreign embassies. They were light then. Now, all embassies, including our own, are fortresses. The coordinated terrorist attacks which occurred a day after my return will only exacerbate prevailing...

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