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Author, Policy Researcher & Founder, Mantraya
Jounalist Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu
Distinguished Fellow, Takshashila Institution

The American mission in Afghanistan came to a tragic and chaotic end when The U.S. military departed the country on Aug. 30, a day ahead of schedule, ending a 20-year occupation and leaving Afghanistan in the Taliban’s hands. A ferocious offensive had delivered victory to the Taliban on Aug. 15, hours after the president, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country. Taliban leaders took his place in the presidential palace, driving tens of thousands of people to the country’s borders. Others flooded to the international airport in Kabul, where crowds scrambled to be part of the evacuations of foreign nationals and their Afghan allies.

Days of chaos at the airport were punctuated by a suicide attack on Aug. 26 that killed as many as 180 people. The collapse of the Afghan government, after the United States spent billions to support it and the Afghan security forces, was a crushing and violent conclusion to the U.S. military mission in America’s longest war. (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/article/afghanistan-war-us.html)

India has been one of the biggest contributors towards global efforts at reconstructing Afghanistan. Over the last two decades, India’s development partnership with Afghanistan has had four fundamental elements: a) humanitarian assistance; b) infrastructural projects; c) small and community-based development projects; and d) capacity-building programmes. (Source: https://www.orfonline.org/research/the-future-of-indias-development-cooperation-in-afghanistan/)

In this episode of BIC Talks recorded in November 2021, experts on India-Afghanistan relations, Suhasini Haidar, Shantie D’souza and Anand Arni give us a reading of the situation and analyse the implications of the recent developments with respect to India’s relations with the people of Afghanistan.


Shanthie D'Souza

Author, Policy Researcher & Founder, Mantraya

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza is the Founder and President of Mantraya, an independent research forum that seeks to make constructive contributions in the realm of strategy, innovations, and alternatives. Beyond her work with Mantraya, she is also a founding professor at the Kautilya School of Public Policy, Hyderabad; a visiting faculty and member of the research and advisory committee at the Naval War College in Goa; a Board Director at the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies in Colombo, Sri Lanka; a research fellow at WeltTrends-Institut für Internationale Politik in Potsdam, Germany; an international advisor for Nordic Counter Terrorism Network in Helsinki, Finland; an editorial board member of Small Wars & Insurgencies; an advisor for Independent Conflict Research and Analysis in London, U.K., and a non-resident scholar with MEI’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Program.

Before these positions, she worked with the governmental and non-governmental sector for more than a decade in Afghanistan, including as an advisor for the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, an international election observer for the audit and recount of Afghanistan’s presidential runoff elections in 2014, a Senior Transition Consultant for the United Nations Mine Action Service, and an external reviewer for Action Aid International in Afghanistan.

She also holds extensive research and academic experience. Dr. D’Souza has previously been a visiting research associate at the Murdoch University School of Business & Governance in Perth, Australia, a research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies of the National University of Singapore, an associate fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, India, and a Fulbright Fellow and visiting research associate of South Asia Studies for The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. D’Souza’s research interests and areas of expertise include prospects for long-term stability in Afghanistan; the politics of aid, development and security in Afghanistan; state and peace building in fragile states; security sector reform; countering terrorism, insurgencies, and violent extremism; women, peace, and conflict; non-traditional security threats and crisis response in Asia; and India’s foreign, maritime, and security policy. Her pursuits have led her to conduct field research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Africa, Australia, Canada, the United States, and India.

Her most recent editing and publishing work includes Countering Insurgencies and Violent Extremism in South and South East Asia, Afghanistan in Transition: Beyond 2014, Perspectives on South Asian Security, and Saving Afghanistan. Her work on Afghanistan and India have also been published in international peer reviewed journals and The Europa Regional Surveys of the World, Europa World Year Book, and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Suhasini Haidar

Jounalist Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu

Suhasini Haidar is the Diplomatic Editor of The Hindu, one of India’s oldest and most respected national dailies (www.thehindu.com), regularly writing on Foreign policy issues. Prior to this, Suhasini was Foreign Affairs editor and prime time anchor for India’s leading 24-hr English news channel CNN-IBN (2005-2014), where she presented the signature show “WorldView with Suhasini Haidar”, and Correspondent for CNN International’s New Delhi bureau before that. In 2015, she was the recipient of the most prestigious Indian print journalism ‘Prem Bhatia’ award, and has won a series of awards for her work in Television as well.

Over the course of her 26-year reporting career, Suhasini has covered the most challenging stories & conflicts from the most diverse regions including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lebanon and Syria. In India, she has covered the foreign affairs beat for over a decade and her domestic assignments include political profiles and in-depth reportage from conflict zones including Kashmir, where she was injured in a bomb blast in 2000.

Suhasini Haidar worked with CNN International from 1995-2005, regularly reporting from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.She was part of the CNN team that won the Columbia-Dupont Broadcast Journalism Award in 2005 for coverage of the tsunami in India, and worked for CNN.com in New York for a month during its 9/11 coverage.

Suhasini began her career in journalism as an intern at CNN’s United Nation’s bureau in New York in 1994, after which she joined CNN New Delhi bureau as a producer in April 1995.

Suhasini earned a Bachelor’s degree at Lady Shriram College in Delhi, and then completed her Masters in Broadcast Journalism at Boston University’s College of Communication, USA. She lives in Delhi with her husband Nadim and her two daughters Ava Mumtaz and Maya Mehr.

Anand Arni

Distinguished Fellow, Takshashila Institution

Anand Arni is a Distinguished Fellow of the Geostrategy Programme at the Takshashila Institution. Anand Arni was formerly Special Secretary in the Research & Analysis Wing. A career intelligence officer, he served in India’s external intelligence agency for 37 years, retiring in 2012. In the R&AW, he spent over 25 years in dealing with issues related to Pakistan and Afghanistan.