India’s engagement with Taliban has been limited: Foreign Secretary Shringla

Washington : India’s engagement with the Taliban has been limited, and the Taliban have appeared to indicate that they will be “reasonable in the way they handle” India’s concerns, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.

In a media interaction here on Friday, Shringla said, “Our engagement with them (Taliban) has been limited. It’s not that we have (had) a robust conversation. But for whatever conversations we’ve had so far, the Taliban seem to indicate that they will be reasonable in the way they handle things.”

On the Doha meeting between India’s Ambassador Deepak Mittal and the head of Taliban’s Political Office Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, he said that India had told the group that New Delhi wants them to be cognisant of the fact that there should be no terrorism emanating from their territory directed at India.

“In our statement, we have said that we have told them that we want them to be cognisant of the fact that there should be no terrorism that emanates from their territory directed against us, or other countries; that we want them to be mindful of the status of women, minorities and so on so forth. And, and I think they have, also, you know, made reassurances from their side,” he said.

On Pakistan’s role, he said that Islamabad has “supported and nurtured” the Taliban.

“Pakistan is a neighbour of Afghanistan, they have supported and nurtured the Taliban. There are various elements that are Pakistan supported– so its role has to be seen in that context,” he said.

He also said that the US is watching the situation in Afghanistan “very closely”. “They will obviously see how different players get engaged in the situation in Afghanistan.”

On what would be India’s policy as it is to head the UN 1988 Sanctions Committee, also known as the Taliban sanctions committee, he said: “Two things are coming up, one is the extension of the UNAMA (UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) mandate, and the other is the delisting issue of the 1988 committee of which we are the chair, the Taliban sanctions committee, and we will have to engage on that; there is no, I don’t think we have seen any initiatives on that, we have to see how that goes, there have been no requests.

“In other words, our stand is wait and watch, in other words we have to see how the situation evolves on the ground. I mean are we going to immediately take steps, I don’t think so; are we going to calibrate our decisions according to what happens, I think that would be the case; how long that will take, nobody really knows. Don’t forget that we are one out of 15 members and we also have to see what the rest of the international community is saying, and in the UNSC it is based on consensus,” he said.

On whether India would be supporting the resistance in Panjshir province, and if India is doing anything about it, he said that the situation in Afghanistan is “so fluid that it is difficult to comment at this point of time on anything”.

“It is too difficult a situation on which we can say anything, whether it is with regard to what is happening on the ground or claims and counter-claims. We are not there on the ground, we don’t have any assets there, we have to sit back and assess how things evolve.”

“It’s not that we are not doing anything, we are in touch with the international community, we are in touch with practically every country that has interests on Afghanistan. We’ve had conversations at the level of the PM, the EAM, the NSA, we’ve had extensive discussions, exchanges and conversations with all concerned,” he added.