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EXCLUSIVE | Taliban Foreign Affairs Chief Holds Out Olive Branch to Delhi But Has a Warning for India, Pak 'Using' Afghanistan

By: Manoj Gupta

CNN-News18

Last Updated: August 30, 2021, 11:44 IST

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said the Taliban is keen to foster friendly relations with India. (Image: AP)

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said the Taliban is keen to foster friendly relations with India. (Image: AP)

Sher Mohammad Stanikzai tell CNN-News18 that Taliban seeks friendly ties with all its neighbours.

An alumnus of the Indian Military Academy who is tipped to be Afghanistan’s foreign minister has told CNN-News18 that his country will not pick sides between India and Pakistan. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, speaking exclusively from Doha, said the Taliban is keen to foster friendly relations with India, the clearest sign yet that the new Taliban rulers are keen to engage positively with the Indian government.

The following are the excerpts from his interview:

How do you see Taliban administration’s view towards India?

Our foreign policy is to have good relations with all our neighbouring countries and the whole world. The American forces were in Afghanistan for the last 20 years and after which they withdrew. We will have friendly relations with America after this and NATO. So, I think they should come back and take part in the rehabilitation of Afghanistan. Same goes for India. We want to continue friendly cultural and economic relations with them. Not only with India, all our neighbouring countries, including Tajikistan, Iran and Pakistan.

There is a fear that Taliban may be hostile towards India, they may team up with Pakistan and target India. How do you see this assessment. Is this correct or wrong?

What comes up in media is most often wrong, there is no such statement or indication from our side. We want good relations with all our neighbouring countries.

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There is a fear that Afghanistan could become a sanctuary for terror groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, which are a threat to India. What are your comments on that?

There was no threat from Afghanistan to any of our neighbours, including India throughout our history and it will not happen at all. There is no doubt that there is a long political and geographical dispute between India and Pakistan. We hope they do not use Afghanistan in their internal fight, they have a long border, they can fight amongst themselves on the border. They should not use Afghanistan for this and we will not let any country use our land for this.

It’s a strong statement that you will not allow LeT or Jaish to play in your territory. Are you confirming that?

This is our duty. We will not allow anyone to use Afghan side against any country in the world.

You were trained in the Indian Military Academy a few decades ago. Any memory of that place and how was your time when you were in India?

It was during my young age, I was trained there before Russians came to Afghanistan. I was trained at IMA and graduated from there.

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Are you still in touch with those people?

No, not in India.

Who do you blame for the Kabul attack a few days ago?

In media, I saw Daish (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) took the responsibility of the attack.

But reports suggest that Haqqani did the blast and ISIS took the responsibility. What do you have to say on that?

This is what enemies of Afghan people say. It’s not true and it’s completely false. Since Daish has taken the responsibility, it is clear that Daish has done it.

There are many Hindus and Sikh who are still in Afghanistan. Will you help India to evacuate them?

I think there is no requirement to evacuate them. Afghanistan is their home land and country so they can live peacefully and there will be no harm to their lives. They can live as they were living before. We hope that Hindus and Sikhs who were in Afghanistan and had migrated to India in the last 20 years would come back soon.

How do you see the recognition of Taliban by world powers and India?

We hope that. On the ground, since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will form the government, we need to have good relations with our neighbours and other countries of the world. When the new government will be announced, we hope all those countries who are related to the region especially the US will support us.

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India has done a lot of development work in Afghanistan. What do you think will happen to that?

Development works done by India in Afghanistan are our national assets. We will keep it like that and hope in future all incomplete work will be finished by India. We invite India to come and start again and complete those projects.

And will you provide security to them?

Yes, if somebody is coming and working in your country then you will have to provide them with security. I don’t think there is no need to ask such questions.

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first published:August 30, 2021, 08:00 IST
last updated:August 30, 2021, 11:44 IST