Taliban Reach Out to India


By India Strategic

New Delhi. In the first contact with the Taliban after the U.S. ended its two-decade occupation of Afghanistan, India on August 31 raised its “concern” that the country should not be used for anti-India activities and terrorism “in manner” and also discussed the early return of Indian nationals stranded in the country.

The Taliban has assured India that the issues it has raised “would be positively addressed”, the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi.

“Today (August 31), 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, on the request of the Taliban side,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“Discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit to India also came up.

“Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.

“The Taliban Representative assured the Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed,” the statement said.

Stanekzai, known as Sheru, had served as the chief peace negotiator in Doha that had laid the foundation for the US withdrawal that had been planned for August 31 but acquired added urgency after the Taliban seized Kabul on August 15, ahead of which President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

The 58-year-old Pashtun from the Stanekzai clan had trained at the Indian Military Academy in the 1982. He rose to the ranks of Deputy Health Minister and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Taliban regime that was overthrown in the wake of the US invasion following the 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Centre and headed the Taliban’s Political Office in Doha from 2015 to 2019.

On August 30, the United Nations Security Council, of which India currently holds the rotating Presidency, adopted a resolution on Afghanistan, aiming to prevent the use of Afghan soil by terrorist organisations against any country. The resolution was adopted with 13 votes in favour with Russia and China abstaining.

India has invested over $3 billion in the country in building dams, roads, electricity transmission lines besides schools and hospitals in the war-torn country. The country’s Parliament building, built by India, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

This article was published by India Strategic in August 2021.