ON Sunday, US forces launched a drone strike in Kabul, targeting a suicide bomber in a vehicle who had been planning an attack on the airport. This was the second such strike since the Thursday suicide bomb blasts at Kabul airport which killed over 200 people – including 13 American troops – and came just two days shy of the US leaving Afghanistan. The Pentagon said that the strike killed two “high-profile” IS-Khorasan planners and facilitators and wounded another.
Taliban has said that after August 31, the US will have “no right” to carry out attacks in the war-torn country. Meanwhile, in a signal that the world is making a tentative effort to engage with the Taliban, the United Nations Security Council has dropped the Taliban reference from a paragraph in its statement on terrorist attacks near Kabul airport that called on Afghan groups not to support terrorists “operating on the territory of any other country”.
Also in a reconciliatory signal to New Delhi, a member of the Taliban leadership in Qatar has said that India is very important for this subcontinent and that his group wants to continue Afghanistan’s cultural, economic, political and trade ties with India “like in the past”.
India would certainly like to test the Taliban’s intentions. New Delhi’s earlier attempt to reach out to the Taliban in Qatar didn’t lead to any positive outcome. Indian current approach towards Taliban is still dictated by the group’s previous rule in the country. In its new avatar, the Taliban has signalled it has changed. They have promised an “inclusive government” which respects the rights of women and the minorities. It also granted amnesty to enemies and promised that the people would be allowed to leave Afghanistan safely if they wanted to. The government staff has been asked to return to work. What is more, the Taliban even held a press conference. The spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group won’t allow Afghan soil to be used against any other country.
The situation will certainly change for the good if the Taliban translate their promises on running an inclusive government into reality. And if it convinces the world that it has changed. Pakistan, which is regarded as the benefactor of Taliban, is also approaching the issue with some caution. The Taliban is yet to form the government. It will take another few months for the Taliban to settle down. It also remains to be seen whether and what form the resistance to the Taliban will take. And until then, we can only keep our fingers crossed.
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