NEW DELHI — On Aug. 31, India had made an establishment of its first formal contact with the Taliban. Deepak Mittal, Indian ambassador to Qatar, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s political office, in Doha— the capital of Qatar— at the Indian mission.
On the safety of Indians in Afghanistan, especially minorities, India and the Taliban held discussions. Mittal urged the Taliban that Afghan soil should not be used for terror acts against India.
However, informed sources said that establishing contact with the Taliban does not recognize the outfit.
India’s contact with the Taliban evoked reactions from various political parties, posing questions to New Delhi on talking to the Taliban.
India had never recognized the Taliban. Therefore, formal talks in Doha are seen as a departure from Indian policy.
“Either Taliban is a terror organization or not, please clarify to us how you see them. If they are a terror group, why are you talking to them?” said Omar Abdullah, Former Union Minister of State, External Affairs.
“If not, then will you (Centre) move to United Nations and have it delisted as a terror organization? Make up your mind.”
Meanwhile, India has been following the wait and watch policy; it looks forward to seeing government formation in Afghanistan. Taliban said it will form an inclusive government soon.
Sources said any call on recognizing the Taliban can only be taken once the government is formed. It is learned that India is observing how the Taliban fulfills its commitment and how it conducts itself.
Taliban leadership during the meet said that it will address the issues raised by the Indian side. Earlier also Taliban said India is an important country, and they want good economic relations with India.
Ajay Sahai, Director General of the Federation of Indian Export Organization, said that currently, the government of Afghanistan— ruled by the Taliban— has stopped the movement of cargo through the transit routes of Pakistan, thereby stopping imports from the country.
Interestingly, it is the Taliban who requested the Indian mission for yesterday’s meet in Doha.
“Today, Ambassador of India to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha. The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, at the request of the Taliban side,” said the Ministry of External Affairs in a press release.
“Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.”
Taliban said countries to reopen their missions; however, Indian missions and consulates remain shut in Afghanistan.
Haqqanis’ presence in the Taliban’s power structure, dynamics is making India nervous as they share deep linkages with Pakistan’s spy agency ISI and terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra
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