Afghan govt rejects Taliban leader’s remarks about India’s ‘negative role’
The Afghan government on Monday rejected a senior Taliban leader’s remarks that India has been playing a “negative role” in Afghanistan, saying India has been cooperating in development and is expected to contribute to the peace process.
Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban’s chief negotiator and head of its political office in Qatar, had been quoted by the media on Sunday as saying that India has been playing a negative role in Afghanistan for the past 40 years.
Stanikzai, a former military officer who once trained at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, also said India should reconsider its policy on Afghanistan. If the Indian government reconsiders its policy and wants an active role in peace, reconciliation and reconstruction, the Taliban will welcome it and look at it positively, he said.
The Afghan foreign ministry said on Monday that Afghanistan’s ties with India are “within international frameworks and based on mutual respect”. India has very good relations with Afghanistan and is one of the biggest donor countries, the ministry said.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Gran Hewad told the US-backed Radio Azadi: “India one of the biggest donor countries and has helped Afghanistan in development and reconstruction areas, we appreciate their cooperation. We expect India and other neighbouring counties [will] play a significant role in [the] Afghan peace process.”
There was no immediate response from Indian officials to Stanikzai’s remarks.
Stanikzai had also claimed that India has only cooperated with “those who are corrupt and have been put in power by foreigners not elected by Afghan people”.
These developments have come days after the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, discussed the Afghan peace process with external affairs minister S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval during a trip to New Delhi. He also said India should directly engage with the Taliban.
People familiar with developments have said India is yet to take a call on engaging with the Taliban in any way.
Khalid Sadaat, a political analyst, told Radio Azadi that the Taliban are making such assertions on Pakistan’s demand. He said, “The Taliban should not give themselves this liberty to make county and state-level remarks, as it will have negative consequences for Afghanistan in future.
“The other thing is that India and Pakistan are having historical enmity and Pakistan is playing a proxy role in Afghanistan, and Taliban are being accused of playing Pakistan’s proxy role in Afghanistan and are backed by Pakistan. I believe Taliban [are making] these assertions on Pakistan’s demand.”
The US has also stepped up efforts to implement its troubled deal with the Taliban, which has run into problems because of several issues, including the release of prisoners. India has also called for a cessation of hostilities so that authorities can focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the past few days, a fake document about the Taliban calling for the launch of jihad in India went viral on social media. The Taliban denied the reports and a spokesman clarified the group’s policy does not allow interference in the affairs of any other country.