December 12, 2019
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‘The Taliban And India Can Be Reconciled’

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid spoke to Rahimullah Yusufzai

‘The Taliban And India Can Be Reconciled’
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Aren’t Indian projects in Afghanistan beneficial for its people?

India is doing all this to promote its interests in our country. If India were so fond of the Afghan people, why did it not undertake development projects under Taliban rule?

How do you view India’s role in Afghanistan?

India’s role is different from those countries that sent troops to occupy Afghanistan. Still India isn’t neutral in the Afghan conflict as it is supporting the military presence of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and working for the strengthening of the Hamid Karzai government. Also, India has never condemned the civilian casualties caused by the occupying forces.

What do you think of India’s opposition to President Karzai’s attempts to carry out a reconciliation process with the Taliban?

First, Karzai’s so-called reconciliation policy is a non-starter. There can be no reconciliation with a powerless president like him. We don’t believe India will seriously oppose Karzai’s policy.

What’s your response to India’s claims that the Afghan Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Toiba are attacking Indian interests at Pakistan’s behest?

The Lashkar has no presence in Afghanistan and we have no links with it. Unlike the Lashkar which is focused on Jammu and Kashmir, the Afghan Taliban concentrate on Afghanistan. We have never taken part in any attack in India, nor do we attack anyone at Pakistan’s behest. India is taking sides in the Afghan conflict. Once in Khost province, Taliban fighters found Indians in civilian clothes fighting alongside government soldiers. The Taliban also captured Indian weapons in that clash as also on other occasions.

Who do you think was behind last month’s attacks on Indians in Kabul?

Whenever we attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul or its consulates, we claimed responsibility. Last month’s attack was also carried out by Taliban fighters after we got intelligence information that RAW agents were holding a meeting there. India is supporting the Afghan government and the western forces and is, therefore, a legitimate target for us.

Does the Taliban favour Pakistan over India in Afghanistan?

We favour neither India nor Pakistan. We can’t ignore Pakistan as it is a neighbouring Islamic country and gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of displaced Afghans. Pakistan was on good terms with us when we were in power. India, on the other hand, backed the anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance (NA) and refused to do business with our government.

Do you want India out of Afghanistan?

We are not saying that India should get out of Afghanistan. Nor can India be completely expelled from Afghanistan. The Taliban aren’t in any direct conflict with India. India troops aren’t part of NATO forces, they haven’t occupied Afghanistan. India and Afghanistan have had historic ties. If the Taliban returns to power, we would like to maintain normal relations with all countries including India. It’s possible for the Taliban and India to reconcile with each other. Our complaint is that India backed the NA, and is now supporting the Karzai government.

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