(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Shishir Gupta)
India and Russia have decided to join hands to firewall Central Asian Republics bordering Afghanistan from spill-over of Islamic radicalisation and jihad from Taliban-ruled Kabul. The security of Central Asian Republics was discussed in India-Russia NSA level consultations between Ajit Doval and Nikolay Patrushev on Wednesday. The meeting was attended by intelligence chiefs from both sides.
According to those aware of developments, there are firm indications that Turkey and Pakistan are trying to get a toehold in these republics through NGOs with Ankara providing technical support in the Islamization efforts. The Central Asian Republics practice Islam but not of the variety show-cased by the Taliban.
It is understood that in its mission to spread radical Islam the Taliban ruled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be used to promote life under Sharia with the backing of Turkey and Pakistan. The al Qaeda affiliate Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has active cadres in Afghanistan and influence in the fertile Ferghana Valley of Uzbekistan.
While the security of Central Asian Republics was discussed in the Doval-Patrushev meeting, the Russian interlocutors conveyed that situation in these republics was under control, but the threat will mount once the Taliban under mentorship of Pakistan will get ambitious to spread their cult across the Amu Darya.
In this context, Russia and India have decided to work together for engaging the Central Asian Republics with the Modi government ready to step up bilateral ties with each of these countries including Turkmenistan. India has close ties with Tajikistan with a strong element of defence and security.
With the US out of Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics are also willing to reciprocate the Indian overtures and are firmly with the Russian Federation. Their immediate concern, however, is spill-over of jihad from Afghanistan with the Taliban refusing to disavow Al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have tasted blood in Kabul.