Jaipur: Dismissing the prospect of Taliban gaining control of Afghanistan in the near future as unlikely, journalist-author Jason Burke on Thursday said India should not expect too much warmth in bilateral relations with Kabul.
Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival during a session titled "Beyond the Khyber: The future of Afghanistan" alongside authors Edward Girardet and Lucy Morgan Edwards, he said, "In the next 3-5 years, Taliban will not be able to capture power. They are mostly currently limited to Pashtun south and east. Another factor to keep in mind will be the number of foreign troops that will remain on the ground."
Discussing India's prospects in the region, the critically-acclaimed author of "Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam" said, "While India will not get the warmth it would like from ties with Afghanistan, there would be is minimal chance of a profoundly hostile regime to India coming to power in the immediate future in Kabul. No matter who is in power, I do not see why there cannot be a pragmatic relation between the two sides based on the strategic game."
Burke said that India's decision to wield its soft power through projects like construction of the Parliament building as well as popularity of Bollywood among the Afghans bode well for the South Asian nation.
"However, to call the investment of billions of dollars into Afghanistan for reconstruction and the recently signed security deals as expanding the Indian empire would be exaggerating the actual effect of policies on the ground," he cautioned.
Discussing the situation in Afghanistan as US plans to withdraw most of combat forces by 2014, both Girardet and Edwards pointed to the current state of affairs. "The war has been a disaster. The US allowed the generals to take over the war," Girardet remarked.
Edwards, on her part, said the 10 years of American presence in the region had not enabled Afghanistan to build anything. "There was no support for grassroot democratic movements and the warlords were supported much to the detriment of smaller parties," the author of "The Afghan Solution" said.