The US and the Taliban signed a deal on Saturday that could pave the way for a phased exit of foreign forces from the messy Afghan war, which began with the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan to “smoke out” Al Qaeda conspirators behind the 9/11 attacks, cost thousands of lives, and reached a stalemate. The country isn’t yet a proper democracy and the Taliban still wield clout. As US troops withdraw, the Taliban promise to give terrorists no sanctuary, work with elected leaders, and let peace prevail.
If that sounds like the world’s most powerful country being taken for a ride by a ragtag militia with no record of respect for human rights, let alone ink on paper, it may well be. In the short run, the truce may let US President Donald Trump score political points at home, though, and that’s what seems to matter to the White House. In time to come, this could prove myopic. Emboldened by a self-image of invincibility vis-a-vis superpowers, Afghan jihadists are likely to pose a menace to Afghan civil life as well as Indian interests. New Delhi needs to stay on high alert for that eventuality. Instability in that region has done India enough harm already.