London: The Taliban is likely to return to power "fairly quickly and easily" in Afghanistan after the exit of US-led NATO forces from the war-torn country, former Indian foreign secretary Krishnan Srinivasan has said.
He made the comments while answering questions on his recently published memoirs `Diplomatic Channels` at an event at the Nehru Centre here last night.
Gazing at a crystal ball on Afghanistan, Srinivasan, also a former deputy secretary general of the Commonwealth, forecast the return of the Taliban and an ouster of the Hamid Karzai government after the exit of western forces from the country at the end of 2014.
"The Taliban are likely to return to power fairly quickly and easily," he remarked.
Srinivasan, however, added that while he anticipated Taliban dominance in the Pushtun region of Afghanistan, he foresaw a re-emergence of the Northern Alliance in Mazar-e-Sharif and other parts of the country, thereby witnessing a return of status quo ante.
India has provided USD 2 billion of assistance to Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in the aftermath of the al Qaeda attack on the US in September 2001.
A comeback by the Taliban, which is known to be pro-Pakistan, is, thus, unlikely to be good news for India.
Commenting on India`s chances of getting a permanent seat at the UNSC, Srinivasan said, "India`s permanent membership of the UNSC is not imminent, it`s quite far away. India should at this point of time be satisfied with being a pre-eminent power in its region."
Srinivasan`s book has created a stir because of its candidness and unsparing criticism of some of the politicians he worked with during his time as foreign secretary in 1994-95, particularly former President Shankar Dayal Sharma and former Minister of External Affairs Dinesh Singh.
He explained such criticism was "based on facts" as he had seen them and did not mean to be "cruel" towards anybody.
The book dwells on how India outwitted Pakistan at the UN on the issue of Kashmir in 1994, the uneasy relationship with the United States and the reinvigoration of South Block`s "Look East" policy.
It also carries a three-part dissertation on non-alignment, which he divides into "idealism" (the Jawahar Lal Nehru phase), "realism" (Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi including the Janata Party government) and "opportunism" (the period thereafter), when the rationale for this policy has been difficult to sustain.