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Taliban Says Won't Carry Out Anti-India Activities But Can They Be Trusted?

Security experts in India believe that the Taliban can't be trusted at its face value and that the statement is not a guarantee in itself that it will not carry out anti-India activities in near future given its strong ties with both Al Queda and Pakistan.

Taliban Says Won't Carry Out Anti-India Activities But Can They Be Trusted?
Taliban says won't carry out anti-India activities | AP/PTI
Taliban Says Won't Carry Out Anti-India Activities But Can They Be Trusted?
outlookindia.com
2021-09-02T20:45:35+05:30

Taliban has ruled out conducting any anti-India activities or launching military operations against India. Taliban spokesperson said its policies are different from Pakistan.  These remarks came a day after India's envoy to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, held a meeting with Taliban diplomat Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai,  at the Indian Embassy in Doha.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen in an interview with BBC Hindi service, broadcasted on Wednesday, said the Taliban is concerned about the situation of Muslims in India but that doesn't mean they will start carrying out anti-India activities.

Shaheen on being asked about Taliban’s position with regard to Jammu and Kashmir said " As a Muslim they (Taliban) have a right to say and raise concerns if there are atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir, India or other parts of the world."

On being asked about India’s concern that Pakistan can use the Taliban against India, Shaheen said, “Pakistan is our neighbouring country which is a reality. We have cultural and Islamic ties with it which is also a reality. But our policy is different and his (Pak) policy is different.”

Taliban spokesperson also said that they were a "liberation force, like the one in India which fought against the British Raj".

However, security experts in India believe that the Taliban can't be trusted at its face value. The statement is not a guarantee in itself that it will not carry out anti-India activities in near future given its strong ties with both Al Queda and Pakistan.

Ambassador P Stobdan, senior Fellow at Delhi Policy Group, viewed the Taliban spokesperson's statement as part of its effort to gain the confidence of the international community. He said whether it is the Taliban, Al Queda or ISIS, they are genetically connected.

"Shaheen is not an authority to give a guarantee that Taliban will not foment trouble in India. There are internal differences within the Taliban itself. Things will become a bit clearer once the government is formed in Afghanistan and how the Sharia law will be implemented," said Stobdan.

"We have to live with the reality that there is a problem in our backyard and have to gear up to meet this challenge. Whatever Taliban may say, they have deep connect with Pakistan and that is hugely worrisome for us."

A press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs after meeting with Taliban representative on Tuesday said India raised the concern that Afghanistan's soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.

Al  Qaeda on Tuesday called on Islamist forces to launch global jihad to liberate Palestine, Islamic Magreb, Somalia, Yemen and Kashmir. Al Qaeda is  an affiliate of Taliban and according to reports they are in control of some areas of Afghanistan.  Recently Neelam Irshad Sheikh  leader of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has said that the Taliban would help the country in ‘liberating’ Kashmir from India.

Sameer Patil, Fellow, International Security Studies Programme, Gateway House, believes the statement is part of manoeuvreing by the Taliban to gain a semblance of international support.

"Taliban's first priority at the moment is to get its own house in order for the government formation. They don't want to stretch their resources at the moment on external operation, he said, adding that Shaheen's statement has to be viewed in this context.

"There are about 5,000 Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and Taliban have not operated against them. Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba cadre are also working with Taliban so there is no gurantee they will control this cadre."

Maj General BK Sharma (Retd), Director United Service Institution of India, one of the oldest think tank of India, said there is a difference between stated and operative policy and India has to take a nuanced view of it.

"Taliban has in past too said it will not work against India. Pakistan has also stated it doesn't allow terror activities from its territory against India. But the ground reality is different. India has to take a very nuanced view of the emerging situation," said Sharma.

(Tarun Upadhyay can be followed on Twitter at Twitter @tarun33)

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