Taliban government’s obverse to ‘strengthen bilateral ties’ with India after suspicious meeting in Kabul

Following the visit to Kabul by a senior diplomat from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), during which Indian MEA Joint Secretary JP Singh met on Wednesday with the Acting Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan , Alhaj Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Taliban issued a statement on the first of such meetings between India and his administration.

During the first-of-its-kind engagement, DFM Stanekzai asserted that Afghan-Indian relations would progress on the basis of “mutual respect and common bilateral legitimate interests”, and would not be influenced by the inter-rivalry of other country, an official communicated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan read.

The Taliban spokesman also claimed that India has described the ties between the two countries as “historic” and expressed its aid in line with Afghanistan’s priorities with infrastructure and small-scale projects, the capacity building, scholarships and humanitarian assistance. India has ancient civilizational ties to Afghanistan and did more than most countries to help in Afghan nation-building during the US occupation. In fact, the Afghan parliament and its most important dam are both built by India. However, since the return of the Taliban, their own ties to Pakistan and the installation of an ISI-backed leadership in Kabul had raised a question mark over the nature of this administration. Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to feud intermittently over the Durand Line, however, regional Afghan tribes do not recognize each other.

“Finally, both sides stressed the continuation of these meetings to strengthen bilateral relations,” according to the statement from the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Afghanistan’s priorities with infrastructure and small-scale projects, capacity building, scholarships and humanitarian aid.

Welcoming the Indian delegation to Kabul, DFM Stanekzai thanked the Indian government for its humanitarian aid and assured the Indian side that

— Abdul Qahar Balkhi (@QaharBalkhi) June 2, 2022

Afghanistan, given its balanced foreign policy, seeks to strengthen its political, economic and cultural relations with India as an important regional country.

The Indian delegation assured DFM Stanekzai of India’s hands-off policy towards Afghanistan and that

— Abdul Qahar Balkhi (@QaharBalkhi) June 2, 2022

he would not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. DFM Stanekzai assured the Indian delegation that Afghan-Indian relations would progress on the basis of mutual respect and common bilateral legitimate interests, and would not be influenced by rivalry between other countries.

— Abdul Qahar Balkhi (@QaharBalkhi) June 2, 2022

Sent to Kabul checking delivery of supplies to Afghanistan: MEA

A multi-member Indian delegation met with senior Taliban officials in Kabul to oversee humanitarian aid to Afghanistan on Thursday, June 2. Addressing a press conference, the MEA had stressed that the visit should not be characterized as a “diplomatic” engagement.

“Our team went there (Kabul), and I wouldn’t call it a diplomatic engagement. The team is there for operations to deliver our humanitarian aid. I don’t see any other element. You read too much there “Inside. The Afghan embassy here is functioning. There are problems to be solved. The international community is also looking into the matter,” MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.

The MEA also weighed in on the reopening of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan, saying the historical and civilizational ties between the two nations would guide India’s approach to the Afghan people. “Upon the reopening of our embassy…in view of the deterioration of the situation in August 2021, we had withdrawn the officials based in India. Local staff continue to be there for the maintenance and upkeep of the premises of Embassy Our historical and civilizational ties with the Afghan people will guide what we do in Afghanistan,” he said.

On August 15, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, ending more than two months of military blitz. Since then, the public order situation in this war-ravaged country has remained precarious with a declining economy and an unpredictable security situation for the population. The terror group is in the clutches of its toughest challenge as it attempts to manage national leadership, shunned by the international community as a ‘rogue state’. Since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, India has continuously provided humanitarian aid including life-saving medicines to Afghanistan.

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