New Delhi: The terrorist attack in Germany coinciding with Christmas celebrations and the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey should sensibly put an end to a dangerous Russian-Iranian plan for Afghanistan. The plan is to prop up a so-called “good Taliban” to counter the rise of the Islamic State in the Af-Pak region which threatens the interests of Iran and Russia in its “soft belly” represented by the otherwise sovereign Muslim states of Central Asia. India has already cautioned against the terrible unintended consequences of the plan which, on the side, would no doubt encourage Pakistan to new misadventures in Kashmir. The plan indubitably will blow up on the face of its Russian and Iranian planners just as the “mujahideen jihad” organized and funded by the United States culminated in the 9/11 terror attacks. There are just no good and bad terrorists. Unless that basic and commonsense lesson is learnt, the world will never get a measure of control over Islamist terrorism.

The Russian and Iranian plans to cultivate the Taliban will eventually confront American strategic interests in the Af-Pak region. American strategies in the Af-Pak region and in the Middle East related to support to Islamist terror groups have been heretofore muddleheaded and caused the severe crises which is to be observed from Syria in one extremity to Afghanistan on the other. From his limited and rather idiosyncratic public interventions on this critical matter, the United States President-elect, Donald Trump, has exhibited a simple and at the same time a fine understanding. He is not for hair-splitting the alleged goodness and rottenness of Islamist terrorist movements and he advertises a healthy disdain for regime change. If a regime can reasonably contain violent occurrences and incidents within its national territories and inhibit their spillage, America has no business to intervene. The regime could be attempted to be moderated, but wholesale change in the form of leadership decapitation ought to be avoided. It is a sensible policy. If Saddam Hussain had been permitted to stay on, the Middle East would not have been in flames.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, would be well-advised to closely follow Trump’s thinking. This would seem as strange counsel seeing Putin’s vast experience as a world statesman whereas Donald Trump has none. Yet Putin faces the danger of over-activity and strategically overextending Russia. While Putin’s intervention in Syria was breathtakingly sensational and successful, it is not necessary that success will follow with all his enterprises. Afghanistan has been the graveyard of empires. Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet state. If he thinks he can alter the narrative in Afghanistan by employing unnatural means such as the “good Taliban”, he should be prepared for disappointment and to see his worst fears come true. A Taliban government in Afghanistan will, in one stroke, return the world to the pre-9/11 turmoil; and this chaos if added to the present violent unrest will blow the existing world order to bits. Can’t Putin see what he is stoking? Cannot the astute Iranian leadership visualize the disasters of their concoction? And would both Russia and Iran want this to become a flashpoint with Donald Trump’s America? Would Russian and Iranian plans with the Taliban sync with Trump’s declaration of war on jihadis of all types? Can the rational and civilized world afford further divisions faced with the worst threat to its existence?

There can be no compromise with Islamist terrorism. India’s objection to the Russian and Iranian Taliban scheme is not just principled but sensible. Afghanistan’s democracy needs further nurturing and strengthening. A self-sustaining democratic Afghanistan will go a long way to returning peace to the region and aid immeasurably in the worldwide campaign against jihad. The task is far from easy and there are no short cuts. The United States, Russia and the other Great Powers have to align their interests to combat Islamist terrorism. Rebuilding a moderate Islamic world must be part and parcel of the campaign. This is a war in which peace must be won. The world can count on India in this great and urgent task.