The Afghan Taliban is clearly giving India an opening to engage. Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement says: “Linking the issue of Kashmir with that of Afghanistan by some parties will not aid in improving the crisis at hand because the issue of Afghanistan is not related. Nor should Afghanistan be turned into a theatre of competition between other countries.” India’s former Ambassador to Kabul and current National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) member Amar Sinha takes note telling SNI, “The Taliban are clear headed in unambiguously stating there is no linkage between our internal actions in Kashmir and the Afghan situation and have appealed to ‘some parties’ to refrain from doing so. Everyone knows that there is only one party hawking this warped logic.”
Shakti Sinha, Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library who served as head of the UN governance and development team in Afghanistan concurs, telling SNI, “It substantiates what I said on the Taliban not liking Pakistan’s position”.
Afghanistan’s Ex-President Hamid Karzai has also taken issue with Pakistan, saying, “Comments in Pakistan linking peace in Afghanistan to their objectives in Kashmir are indicative of Pakistan viewing Afghanistan as strategic depth. I call on Pakistan’s government to stop using extremist violence as an instrument of policy in the region. We hope the new measures by the Government of India will lead to the betterment and prosperity of the people in Jammu and Kashmir as citizens of India.”
The Taliban’s J&K statement also “calls on both involved parties, the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), the UN and other influential institutions to play a constructive role in preventing insecurity in Kashmir. It is clear, Ambassador Sinha feels, “that the Taliban take their role as a government seriously even though a bit prematurely.” He adds, “India will be happy at a peaceful reintegration of the Taliban as decided in an intra-Afghan dialogue.”
On the Taliban statement, another Indian ex-ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhaya tells SNI, ” India would probably appreciate the spirit of the Taliban statement delinking the Kashmir issue with peace in Afghanistan, but not its internationalization. This would seem to be a good starting point to join in good faith negotiations with the government and political forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. And to join Afghan political life free from Pakistani tutelage and rebuild a united, independent, peaceful Afghanistan free from violence and terrorism. ”
With the eighth round of talks between the U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban continuing in Doha, Qatar, the ex-Indian envoy says, “India should be ready to facilitate intra-Afghan talks and unity as an honest broker and as an important neighbour that has tremendous goodwill for Afghanistan and all its citizens. I believe our credibility is high across the board.”
With violent attacks continuing to claim lives and the Taliban warning of more on campaign rallies for the scheduled September 28 Presidential polls, Ambassador Sinha says, “While I am willing to accept the Taliban’s brotherly advice on not escalating matters and reducing tension (with Pakistan), I appeal to them to do the same in Afghanistan. This month has seen some of most vicious attacks that have led to a record number of civilians killed. The last count is 1500. The Taliban, in their last intra-Afghan meeting, declared their intention to reduce violence. We have seen no such sign on the ground. This one step will raise their credibility both internally and internationally.”