Taliban seeks good relations with India; assures no threat
The Taliban on Monday emphasized India's importance in the region and said that it would want good relations with India. Recounting India's ties with Afghanistan, the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told India Today that there will be no threat to India from them. The comments came as the Taliban is trying to form an "inclusive" government in Afghanistan amid its hostile takeover.
'Won't allow any other country to be endangered by us'
Rubbishing reports of the Taliban siding with Pakistan against India, Zabihullah said, "The Taliban won't allow any other country to be endangered by us...We assure India...our side will not be a threat." He also urged other countries to establish their embassies in Afghanistan and said the "presence of ambassadors in Afghanistan is beneficial." "We want all countries to have good relations with us."
Afghanistan should not be dragged into India, Pakistan fight: Taliban
Separately, senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, said they want to continue "cultural, economic, and trade ties with India like in the past." Stanikzai also warned against dragging Afghanistan into the internal fight between Indian and Pakistan, CNN-News18 reported. He further confirmed that Afghanistan will not allow terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad to operate from its land.
'India-Pakistan border long; they can fight among themselves'
On Indo-Pak relations, Stanikzai said, "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 shouldn't use Afghanistan for this."
Taliban open to trade with India; says it's important
Notably, India has invested over $3 billion in Afghanistan on various development projects such as roads, dams, and the Parliament building. On these projects, Stanikzai told CNN-News18 optimistically that India should finish all incomplete works. In a video posted by the Taliban on Saturday, Stanikzai stressed the importance of trade with India and expressed willingness to continue it through air and land.
'Trade with India through Pakistan is important for us'
"India is very important for this subcontinent," Stanekzai said, "We want to continue our cultural, economic, and trade ties with India like in the past... Trade with India through Pakistan is very important for us. With India, trade through air corridors will also remain open."
India rethinking strategy on Afghanistan
Meanwhile, India has not said anything on Stankezai's comments. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that India was compelled to rethink its strategy on Afghanistan due to the "changing equation." Singh maintained that the formation of QUAD is in line with this "changing strategy." A day before, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had spoken to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Afghanistan.
What is happening in Afghanistan?
It has been two weeks since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the capital city, Kabul, was captured. The group gained ground as the US withdrew its troops to end its two-decade-long 'War on Terror'. While the Taliban is trying to form an "inclusive government," several Afghans are rushing to flee the country, fearing reprisals, and the return of harsh Islamic rule.