India's North Western periphery is witnessing stability challenges that will also have considerable impact on India with reference to mainly defence and security despite reasonable peace on the Line of Control with Pakistan and control of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
Afghanistan under the Taliban self named as the Islamic Emirate is increasingly turning to a hardline Islamic ideology of the past avatar. Taliban seems to have overcome the coyness of their extremist ideology and possibly abandoned the inclination to adopting universal human values of freedoms and women rights.
This was evident with a number of stringent strictures issued during the month of March ranging from blocking senior girls to attend schools, denying foreign air travel for unaccompanied women, taking off air international channels such as Voice of America, BBC and Deutschwelle (DW) and enforcing a dress code to maintain a beard for government servants.
All this came about even as they proclaimed that the international community had virtually recognized the Islamic Emirate given multiple interactions and exchanges that have taken place in the last six months.
Apparently the Taliban may have misjudged the response of the international community and driven themselves further away from recognition. Meanwhile aid and assistance flow to Afghanistan continues with the Indian tranche of 50,000 tonnes of wheat expected to be completed in April. These developments indicate that the Taliban may be spured by the international community increasingly pushing the group towards humanitarian crisis and a failing state.
On the defence and security front reorganization and reformation of units is going on apace. Yet there are concerns of security vaccum that is permitting groups as the Islamic State space to operate with impunity. The spill over of these groups including the Pashtun and Baloch nationalists in Pakistan has led to rising violence in the tribal belt and beyond blamed on India.
Pakistan's Political Challenges
March has been a humpy dumpty month for politics in Pakistan. With the opposition campaign to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan reaching a crescendo with submission of the no confidence motion in the National Assembly, the Prime Minister weaned away one of the key partners in Punjab and the National Assembly – PML Q by offering the seat of the Chief Minister to leader of the party Parvez Elahi.
While this has caught the opposition by surprise given that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was also making similar offers to the PML Q, the no confidence motion in the national and the Punjab Assembly may still go through and all eyes will be on the smaller parties support as well as the dissident faction of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf.
These smaller parties strength in the National Assembly is MQM (P) – 7, the PML Q – 5, the BNP – 4 and the GDA – 3. In addition there are approximately 24 to 32 members of the J K Tareen faction of the PTI who are likely to vote for the No Confidence Motion as on March 28th. Thus it is proverbial story of the tail wagging the dog.
Political instability in Pakistan may seem a given due to inherent structural frailities and some in India may even rejoice on the developments, but the substantial regional and geo-political challenges in the region may be better served by stable polity in the Western Neighbour.