Taliban will not pose threat to any diplomatic mission of any country, says Suhail Shaheen
India is welcome to continue its aid and reconstruction work in Afghanistan after a government with the Taliban comes to power. But New Delhi should remain neutral and not give the current Kabul administration any military support, says Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s Political Office Spokesman for International Media based in Qatar.
In an interview, he also said he was unaware of contacts between the Indian government and his group. The comments come as the international community is warily watching the Islamist militant group take control of large swathes of Afghanistan after the exit of US-led international forces. India is worried a takeover of Afghanistan by Pakistan backed Taliban will jeopardize its security interests. When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan between 1996-2001, terrorism in Kashmir saw a spurt. New Delhi has long sought a government in Kabul that does not support Pakistan-based terrorist groups targeting Kashmir. To make Afghanistan economically independent, India has been developing the Chabahar port given that overland trade with landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia are hostage to the strains in the India-Pakistan relationship.
Our Negotiations Team in Doha have regular meetings with the Negotiations Team from Kabul. They discuss topics of the joint agenda which both sides have already agreed upon. Now it is upto the two teams to reach a final decision about the form of future Islamic government. In fact, our agenda which we have shared with the other side embodies our plan.
We had two main objectives from our struggles in the past two decades:
1: To end foreign occupation in the country and
2: To establish an Afghan inclusive Islamic government in Afghanistan.
To achieve these two goals, we have kept our door open to reach a peaceful solution. In parallel, our military approach is also used as needed. But when we reach a solution, then there will be no need for fighting
India has been a development partner for Afghanistan— it has built roads, electricity lines and also the Salma dam. What kind of a role do you fors ee for India after you become part of the government in Kabul? You have said that development partners can continue to work in Afghanistan and foreign embassies can also stay.
Regarding not targeting embassies and consulates, we have already issued official statements, saying we will not pose threat to any diplomatic mission of any country. About national projects and reconstruction of Afghanistan, the future Islamic government welcomes positive contribution of other countries in reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. However, India should remain neutral and should not support the current Kabul Administration with military hardware which are ultimately used against the people of Afghanistan and destruction of the country. This is not good for their image and people’s perception of them.
There are reports that India is in touch with the Taliban, that there are talks with you. Can you give any details of the kind of talks that are happening?
I don’t know about these contacts and meetings. As far as I know, these have not happened.
India is concerned that anti India groups will be trained and sheltered in Afghanistan if you are part of a government in Kabul. Does India need to be worried about this?
On the basis of Doha Agreement, we have commitment not to allow any one to use the soil of Afghanistan against any other country. We have announced this from time to time.
What kind of a role do you see for China and Pakistan in Afghanistan’s future?
Our people have suffered a lot during the past four decades and our country is a war-torn country, we need assistance of China and Pakistan and all other countries but simultaneously, we don’t want Afghanistan to become a ground of rivalries but rather we want it will be a ground of cooperation inshaAllah.