Kabul-Taliban Talks: EAM Jaishankar Says No Anti-India Activities Should Be Allowed On Afghan Soil; But Is It Possible?

Kabul-Taliban Talks: EAM Jaishankar Says No Anti-India Activities Should Be Allowed On Afghan Soil; But Is It Possible?Taliban fighters at a training camp in Kandahar (Pic via Long War Journal)
Snapshot
  • The prospect of a Taliban-dominated political settlement reminds one of the erstwhile Taliban rule of 1996-2001 which saw extreme persecution of the Hindu-Sikh population, and oppression of women

    Currently, Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan number around a 1,000 each. This would constitute a 99 per cent decline in population in just three decades.

Afghanistan acting foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar took to Twitter yesterday to thank India for its commitment and solidarity with Afghainstan.

"My sincere appreciation to Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and Ministry of External Affairs for reaffirming India's support for peace and the free will of the Afghan people. We profoundly remain grateful to India's commitment and solidarity with Afghanistan," Atmar tweeted.

The tweet comes amidst the starting of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar to end the war that the United States launched in 2001 after the 9/11, and has killed ten of thousands.

India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar participated in the opening ceremony of the talks through video conferencing.

The External Affairs Minister said on Twitter, "Addressed the conference on Afghan peace negotiations at Doha today. Conveyed that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, respect national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, promote human rights and democracy, ensure the interest of minorities, women and the vulnerable and effectively address violence across the country."

He said Afghan soil should never be used for carrying out anti-India activities and supported the need for an immediate ceasefire in order to establish long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan government-Taliban “intra-Afghan” talks were announced after the Afghan government released the last batch of six Taliban prisoners on 10 September - just a day after the 19th anniversary of the 9/11.

The talks follow the 29 February US-Taliban agreement to evacuate the remaining US troops from Afghanistan. The Kabul-Taliban talks were supposed to commence in March itself, but got delayed on account of the reluctance of the Afghan government in releasing the Taliban prisoners.

Kabul was supposed to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners as a pre-condition for talks but delayed the release as there was no “reduction of violence” on the part of Taliban.

However, it ultimately ceded under the pressure of US. President Ashraf Ghani started freeing prisoners in batches, and the Taliban released 1,000 government-side prisoners including soldiers.

Alongside, the US troop withdrawal is taking place.

US recently announced plans to bring down troops to 4,500 by late October or early November. In the beginning of the year, there were around 12,000 american troops on Afghan soil. US has also shut down five of its bases as promised in the agreement.

The intra-Afghan talks are focused on two issues: one, negotiating a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire to put an end to the violence; and two, a power-sharing settlement between the democratically elected Afghan government and the Taliban.

Currently, around 20 per cent of Afghan territory is under full Taliban control, and 47 per cent is contested. The confidence of Taliban can be gouged from the fact that it continued violent attacks all the while talks with US were going on.

The group has definitely caught on the desperation of the Trump administration to end the protracted war that isn’t going anywhere.

On 9 September, there was an assassination attempt on Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh, the second in two years, which killed 10 bystanders.

It is, therefore, unlikely that Taliban will agree to a ceasefire before getting a political settlement according to its wishes.

The prospect of a Taliban-dominated political settlement reminds one of the erstwhile Taliban rule of 1996-2001 which saw extreme persecution of the Hindu-Sikh population, and oppression of women.

Taliban, like many Islamist groups, has denounced democracy as a western abomination.

In June, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban said that the peace process does not mean the Taliban will abandon the path of Jihad.“..they shouldn't expect (the Taliban) to abandon jihad and their military capabilities," he said.

The remarks came after a UN report stated that the Taliban had failed to fulfil a core part of the US-Taliban agreement that it would break ties with Al Qaeda.

Indian Express quoted an Indian diplomat as saying, “The Afghan government is entering the negotiations knowing that they are a death sentence on itself”.

The best bid, therefore, for President Ashraf Ghani is to stretch the talks to US elections in November, hoping for the support from a possible Biden presidency that has not been coming from the Trump administration.

The Pakistan Army and ISI played key roles in facilitating the US-Taliban agreement, and are significant to the intra-Afghan talks as well.

Abbas Stanekzai, a hardliner close to the Pakistani security establishment, pro-Pakistan Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Anas Haqqani from the Haqqani Network are participating in the talks from the Taliban side.

Pakistan has always been a part of the problem in Afghanistan. As Brahma Chellaney pointed out, no terror group can be effectively defeated till the time it has a safe haven in a foreign country. A recent report from the UN revealed that there are as many as 6,500 Pakistani terrorists among the foreign fighters operating in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the exodus of the Indic communities from Afghanistan continues. The small Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan have reportedly made multiple appeals to the Indian government for “immediate evacuation”.

Currently, Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan number around a 1,000 each. This would constitute a 99 per cent decline in population in just three decades.

Also read: Islamic Countries Of Indian Subcontinent - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan - Where Are Your Hindus?

70 Years After Partition Hindu-Sikh Exodus From Islamic Nations In Indian Subcontinent Continues, But No One Cares

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