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After US exit from Afghanistan, India, China and South Asia will be in spotlight–Nepal scholar

Big test ahead for the Joe Biden administration

With the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, “the centre of gravity of world politics” has now rapidly shifted towards the east of Kabul, in which not only will India and China play a much larger role but the smaller countries including Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh will also come under the spotlight.

As many see the clumsy US exit from Afghanistan as a “huge” defeat for Washington, the Joe Biden administration is now set to up its ante against China in the coming months.

Analysts also said that the US could whip up the anti-China sentiments like never before at this point to maintain its credibility and importance on the global stage.

Also read: After US exit, Taliban declares China as its main partner in Afghanistan

“The exit of the US from Afghanistan, in my assessment, will accentuate geopolitical alignments more severely the further geographically one moves east from Kabul,” Bhaskar Koirala Director of the Nepal Institute of International and Strategic Studies told India Narrative.

“The United States, in the context of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, will most likely devote more attention to smaller countries in South Asia like Nepal as part of its efforts to ‘contain’ China. This is likely to be one of the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Koirala said.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, who recently visited Singapore, “sought to fortify the image” of her country “as a credible ally by offering a sharp rebuke of China during an address.

“Her effort comes as the White House faces growing questions about its reliability as an international partner amid continuing violence in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan,” New York Times said.

The Biden administration will try and further cement its ties with countries like India, Taiwan and Japan among others at a time when questions on credibility of Washington’s foreign policy have been raised from across the globe. 

Also read: US no longer a superpower, says British Defence Secretary after the Afghan pullout

The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in a recently released paper said that across the world there are worries about the reliability and credibility of the US as a guarantor of security.

“It would be foolhardy to take American credibility on external commitments as a given. While there are fewer doubts about US commitments to Europe and the NATO, the looser arrangements in the Indo-Pacific leave open many questions,” the ORF paper stated.

As Harris’ trip will serve as a test of whether the US can continue to dominate world politics and maintain credibility, all eyes are on countries like India and Taiwan. Will they chalk out an alternative foreign policy?

Sources said that there are murmurs within policymakers in South Block to recharter India’s foreign strategy which is less dependent on the US and more aligned with other powers.

“The US is driven by its own interests, India must be driven by hers,” said an analyst.