Many countries in including India is looking for ways to deal with the Taliban. In order to save lives, it will be necessary to negotiate with Afghanistan’s new rulers. Western governments say that — on principle — they do not negotiate with terrorists. But often reality is different. There have been many examples of how government representatives sat down at the negotiating table with members of organizations responsible for terrorist attacks. Albeit reluctantly. This was true, for example, in dealing with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) or the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
In the case of Afghanistan, the negotiation issue is as sensitive as it is controversial, as the militant Islamist Taliban have virtually taken almost the entire population hostage. That’s a formidable bargaining chip. If you want to help the people in Afghanistan, you can hardly get past the Taliban.
The Taliban had established their “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” following their conquest of Kabul in September 1996. Their reign of terror lasted for five years until the invasion of international troops in 2001. Now they are back in power.
From the perspective of the international community, the worst must be prevented in this war-torn country. That includes serious ongoing human rights violations, massive refugee movements, countless deaths from hunger, and that Afghanistan could once again become a hub for terrorist organizations — such as al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State (IS.) Observers fear for the future of this geostrategically important country, located between Central and South Asia.
India expects Afghan soil shouldn’t be used for terror activities
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that India’s immediate focus is to ensure that Afghan soil is not used for terrorist activities directed against it. The reaction came two days after the Indian envoy to Qatar held talks with a top Taliban leader in Doha.
MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India used the meeting in Doha to convey its concerns over the possible use of the Afghan territory for anti-India activities and to bring back the remaining Indians from Afghanistan.
“We received a positive response,” he said referring to the meeting between Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal and Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.
To a volley of questions on whether India would recognise a Taliban regime in the backdrop of the meeting between the two sides, Bagchi said: ” It was just a meeting. I think these are very early days.”
Asked whether India will have more meetings with the Taliban, the MEA spokesperson said he does not want to speculate. “I would not like to speculate on the future. I have no update to share on that,” he said.
On bringing back the remaining Indians from Afghanistan, Bagchi said India will be able to revisit the matter once the Kabul airport resumes operation.
Indian Ambassador in Qatar meets Taliban’s representative
In the first formal and publicly acknowledged contact, Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai on August 31 and conveyed India’s concerns that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai is 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 stated the Ministry of External Affairs in its press release.
“The 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,” the statement said.
The Indian Ambassador also 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 concluded. The last American aircraft left the Kabul airport in the early hours of August 31. Stanekzai, in a clear overture, described India as an important country in the region and said the Taliban wants to maintain Afghanistan’s trade, economic and political relations with it.