India on Tuesday announced that it officially met the new rulers of Afghanistan- the Taliban for the time in Qatar yesterday.
India’s foreign ministry issued a statement related to the meeting and informed that India’s ambassador to Qatar held talks with a top Taliban leader. This is the first formal diplomatic engagement between the two parties ever since the hardline Islamist group took over Afghanistan.
From India’s side, ambassador Deepak Mittal met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai who is the head of the Taliban’s Political Office in Doha. The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, at the request of the Taliban side, the foreign ministry said.
Ministry of External Affairs said that the discussions with the Taliban focused on various issues like safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan.
The MEA said, “Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner. The Taliban representative assured the Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed.”
Earlier this week in an all-party meeting, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar informed that India is right now in a wait and watch mode as it expects to see the reaction of other countries first before taking a stand on the Taliban.
Interestingly, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban representative Ambassador had trained with the Indian Army between 1979 and 1982 for three years at the Army Cadet College, Nowgaon, and then at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. That was at a time when some members of the Afghan Army were allowed to train at the IMA and Stanikzai hadn’t joined the Taliban.
The afghan issue is a matter of concern for India as it is close to the Pakistani Government and Pakistan could use the Taliban against India. However, the group has said that it does not support terrorists “operating on the territory of any other country.”
Stanikzai previously said that India is “very important for this subcontinent” and Taliban wants to continue Afghanistan’s “cultural”, “economic”, “political” and “trade ties” with India “like in the past”.