Geo-strategic realities, sometimes, turn cruel. India’s “non-official” attendance of the “Moscow format” confirms the dynamic nature of international relations where friends and foes change constantly. In a remarkable shift from India’s stand on engaging with Taliban, New Delhi has surprised many by sending two diplomats to attend talks on the Afghanistan peace process that Russia organised.

What does the shift in India’s policy over Taliban suggest? The changing ground situation in Afghanistan has forced India to revisit its position on the Taliban. Almost every other country considers Taliban as an important stakeholder in the Afghan peace process. Even the United States that has been fighting the war on terror for last eighteen years has recognised Taliban as an essential stakeholder in the peace process. So it was a prudent move by India to send its delegation to observe the proceedings of the Moscow format.

Moreover, the fact that the Taliban have emerged as stakeholders in the peace process and any future government making process, New Delhi does not want to irk the Taliban by opposing them. India is spending significant amounts in developing infrastructure in Afghanistan. However, without winning the support of the Taliban, these infrastructural developments project will be of no real value in strengthening ties between the two countries.

On the ground situation in Afghanistan shows that all countries that are engaging with the Afghan government cannot ignore the Taliban. They have emerged as a resilient group that wants a share in the government. And the only difference of opinion between the Taliban and the US is how to carry forward the peace talks. However, with many countries playing their role in persuading Taliban to come to the dialogue table, it is just a matter of time that the Taliban will accede to the pressure.

If such development happens and peace talks materialise in future, India will be a loser in Afghanistan. New Delhi has taken a pre-emptive measure. The move is a calculated one as sending two of its officials at a “non-official” level shows that Modi’s government has adopted “wait and see policy” as far as peace talks are concerned.

It is worth recalling that many countries are trying to win the support of Afghan Taliban, Russia is one among such countries that want the Taliban to join peace talks for its geo-strategic considerations. India has also realised the need of taking a soft position on the inclusion of Taliban in the Afghan government in future. One should not be surprised if New Delhi becomes an ardent supporter of Taliban in future. Such a shift will be the demand of realism that governs international relations today.