Taliban Indicated They’d Be Reasonable To India’s Concerns: Foreign Secy

New Delhi- India and the United States are closely watching Pakistan’s actions in Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Friday.

In the limited engagement that India has had with the Taliban, the new Afghan rulers have indicated that they would be reasonable in addressing New Delhi’s concerns, the foreign secretary added.

“Obviously, like us, they’re also watching carefully and we have to watch Pakistan’s actions with a fine tooth comb,” he told a group of Indian reporters at the end of his three-day official visit to Washington DC adding that the US will have a wait-and-watch policy with regard to how the situation evolves in Afghanistan.

India also has a similar policy. “That doesn’t mean you don’t do anything. It simply means that you have to… the situation is very fluid on the ground, you have to allow it to see how it evolves. You have to see whether the assurances that have been made publicly are actually maintained on the ground, and how things work out,” he said.

“Our engagement with them (the Taliban) has been limited. It’s not that we have (had) a robust conversation. But for whatever conversation we’ve had so far, they’ve been sort of. At least, the Taliban seem to indicate that they will be reasonable in the way they handle this,” Mr Shringla said.

He was responding to a question about the recent meeting that India’s Ambassador in Qatar had with a senior Taliban leader in Doha.

“In our statement, we have said that we have told them that we want them to be cognisant of the fact that there should be no terrorism that emanates from their territory directed against us, or other countries; that we want them to be mindful of the status of women, minorities and so on so forth. And, and I think they have, also, you know, made reassuring… from their side,” he said.

The top Indian diplomat was in Washington DC for a series of meetings with his American counterpart and top officials of the Biden administration in addition to interaction with representations from the industry and think-tanks.

Observing that the situation in Afghanistan is very fluid and moving fast, Mr Shringla said that both India and the US are keeping a close watch on it. “Look on 15th of August, you had a situation where (Afghan) President (Ashraf) Ghani suddenly left. You had the Taliban come in. The situation is moving so fast it’s so fluid that is difficult to comment at this point of time on anything,” he said.

Mr Shringla said the US is watching the situation in Afghanistan very closely. “They will obviously see how different players get engaged in the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a neighbour of Afghanistan. They have supported and nurtured the Taliban. There are various elements there that Pakistan supported,” he said.

At the same time, he noted that the UNSC resolution on Afghanistan adopted during India’s presidency makes mention of the proscribed entities in the UN sanctions list, including the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. “We do have concerns about the free ingress that these two terrorist groups have had in Afghanistan, their role and we will watch that carefully. The role of Pakistan has to be seen in that context,” Mr Shringla said.

Responding to a question, the foreign secretary said the Americans have always said the Taliban has committed to them that they will not allow Afghan territory to be used again in any manner that is detrimental to any country outside Afghanistan.

The US has made it clear to the Taliban that they would hold them accountable if any terrorist activities are emanating from Afghanistan. The international community is on the same page, he said.

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