Senior Taliban commander Sher Muhammad Stanikzai, who described India as a significant country, said Afghan desired an agreement with India that focused on trade and economic connections, like previously. Stanikzai seemed to fight for commerce with India via Pakistan in a broadcast speech that was presumably intended to address the worries of the world community while simultaneously pushing for the air trade road to stay open.
This is the latest in a series of comments by Taliban officials pretending to indicate an outreach to India, following the government’s return of all diplomatic employees from Kabul due to concerns about the country’s insecurity in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover. The rhetoric suggests a desire to achieve acceptability at a time when most countries, including India, have raised worries about terrorism.
Unlike on prior instances, however, this time the statements on connections with India have come from a highly senior individual in the Taliban hierarchy who also happens to be the deputy head of the group’s political office, according to government sources here. Stanikzai has also been cited as claiming that the Taliban value cultural and political relations with India. He also expressed his support for the Chabahar port in Iran, which was built with India’s aid.
Following a “wait and watch” strategy, India has been cautious not to specifically mention the Taliban in its remarks at the UNSC and UNHRC, while expressing worry over the prospect of organizations like LeT and JeM using Afghanistan to attack nations in the area. Much will be determined by the Taliban’s ability and willingness to prevent Pakistan-based organizations from utilizing Afghanistan as a training and recruitment ground against India.
While India is unlikely to rush to officially recognize the Taliban, insiders say contact with the Taliban is not out of the question. The administration, like the US and others, thinks that participation is critical to creating an inclusive and representative government in Kabul. Under its supervision, the UN Security Council reversed its “declaration” that it will not recognize the reinstatement of an Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan in a statement issued on August 16, a day after the Taliban takeover. Last week, on Friday, the UN Security Council made no mention of the Taliban while urging all organizations not to support terrorist actions.