New Delhi: India today, for the first time, admitted to have held diplomatic talks with the Taliban which has taken control of Afghanistan in the past few days following the withdrawal of US forces from there.
An Indian envoy met a leader of the terrorist group in Doha, Qatar’s capital. The meeting took place following a request by the new rulers of the strife-hit country.
Ambassador Deepak Mittal, India’s envoy to Qatar, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, Head of Taliban’s Political Office in that country, according to a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs. They met at the Indian Embassy in Doha, the statement said.
India raised its concern over the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorists, while Stanekzai assured him that these issues would be positively addressed, according to the release.
“Discussions focused on safety, security, and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up,” it said. “Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.”
Stanikzai, the Taliban representative Ambassador Mittal spoke to today, trained with the Indian Army between 1979 and 1982 — three years in the Army Cadet College, Nowgaon, and then at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
India was earlier engaged with “important stakeholders in Afghanistan”, and had adopted a “wait and watch” approach, a media report had said referring to a briefing to an all-party meeting by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
“India is working with its key partners and is continuing engagement with the people of Afghanistan,” the report had said citing Mr Shringla.