India’s role in Afghanistan

Afghan government’s response to the Taliban: Our ties with India are within international framework. 

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Reacting to the recent remarks from Taliban stating that India has been playing a negative role in country since past 40 years, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (MoFA) has said that Afghanistan’s relations with India are within international frameworks and based on mutual respect.

After blaming India of playing a negative role by Deputy of Qatar-based Taliban political office Mula Abas Stanekzai, MoFA has said that India has very good relations with Afghanistan and it’s one of the biggest donor countries.

Spokesperson of MoFA, Mr. Gran Hewad, on 17 May 2020 told Radio Azadi that, so far India has been cooperating in development and reconstruction areas and is expected to contribute to peace process as well. He said: “India is one of the biggest donor countries and has helped Afghanistan in development and reconstruction areas, we appreciate their cooperation. We expect India and other neighboring countries to play significant role in Afghan peace process”.

This comes after the Deputy of Qatar-based Taliban political office Mula Abas Stanekzai told a news outlet that India has implemented its negative policy in Afghanistan during the past 40 years. As per Mr. Stanekzai, during the two decades, India has only cooperated and kept ties with those who are corrupt and have been put in power by foreigners not elected by Afghan people. Abas Stanekzai has mentioned that India should cooperate with Afghan peace process. U.S Representative for Peace and Reconciliation, Zalmai Khalilzad, had discussed the Afghan peace with Indian officials and sought their cooperation during his visit to India last week.

The United States and the Taliban signed a historic peace agreement in Doha on Feb 29, 2020. The deal calls for complete withdrawal of foreign troops within 14 months and a pledge from Taliban of not providing safe havens for international terrorist networks, and a clause for talks between the Taliban and the afghan government.

The agreement signed on February 29, has been met with official optimism in the United States but with the U.S. troop withdrawal in sight, Afghanistan’s future looks highly uncertain. It seems that the Trump administration wanted a mere exit from Afghanistan that would help it in coming to power for a second term. However, this decision has serious implications for the political stability of Afghanistan and the larger regional dynamics. The political uncertainty that the deal has brought for Afghanistan has created a power vacuum that could de-stabilize the entire region. Not only this, the chaotic situation could stoke Islamic fundamentalism making the entire region to go into the clutches of religiously inspired violence.

The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, that has been the linchpin of Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI since the 1970s, were provided with a safe haven in Pakistan since 2001. In doing so, for nearly two decades, Pakistan repeatedly sabotaged the US and NATO’s war on terror. Around 1100 NATO and 2400 US soldiers died in Afghanistan over the last 18 years, many because Pakistan harboured Taliban forces.

Islamabad had maintained cordial relationship with Taliban regime and Pakistan was the first country to diplomatically support the Taliban regime in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The Taliban government is viewed ethnically close to Pakistan and therefore it enables them a kind of political leverage popularly referred as ‘strategic depth’. The deal totally excluded the afghan government and has practically called into question the legitimacy of the government it backs and provided validation to the Taliban that was earlier considered as a terrorist organization.

Afghanistan suffered two deadly suicide attacks on May 12. The first one hit the Dasht-e-Barchi maternity hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Kabul that killed at least 14, including 2 newborn babies and the other was at a funeral of a local police commander in Khewa district of Nangarhar, killing 24. Both attacks were aimed at innocent civilians, the majority of who were women and children. While no group has yet claimed responsibility, the Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib hinted Pakistan based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba responsible for the attacks. The deadly attacks in Afghanistan by Pakistan based terror groups after the recent peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban has revealed that Washington is losing the Afghan war to Pakistan, says an American expert.

The political analysts insist that Taliban should not make country and state level remarks in current fragile situation. Khalid Sadaat, a political analyst told Radio Azadi that if Taliban continues making such remarks it will hurt Afghanistan’s diplomatic ties in the coming future. Mr. Sadaat claims that Taliban are making these assertions on Pakistan’s demand: “Taliban should not give themselves this liberty to make country and state level remarks, as it will have negative consequences for Afghanistan in the future. And 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 has made these assertions on Pakistan’s demand”. Mr. Saddat further added that considering the peace process, Taliban should try to foster good relation with all countries to have their present and future supports. Despite several attempts, Radio Azadi was unable to secure comments of Indian Embassy – Kabul in this regard.

However, the Taliban in a statement on May 18 denied claims on social media that it could join Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Kashmir underlining that the Taliban were clear that it does not interfere in internal affairs of other countries. This was tweeted by Suhail Shaheen, the spokesperson for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the political wing of Taliaban, as they call it.