In a major policy shift, India has opened lines of communication with Afghan Taliban leaders. The development is India’s first break from its original stand on Taliban and comes at a time when US troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan. Earlier, India’s policy on the religious extremist group Taliban was to not engage with it.
According to the reports, sources are claiming that India has opened lines of communication with Mullah Baradar, the Taliban co-founder who was recently in news for striking an agreement with the US on the behalf of Taliban for the extraction of US troops. The development of India opening up lines also comes in the backdrop of world superpowers coming to terms with the fact that for the future of Kabul will have a lot to do with Taliban.
A Hindustan Times report states that the current communication outreach is extended to leaders that are assessed by India as being away from the influence of Pakistan & Iran. India has also opened lines with factions that identify themselves as ‘nationalist’. Though the communication outreach has been going on for a few months, it’s still in a stage where it can be considered exploratory.
Deep lack of trust on both side
The source that spoke to Hindustan Times, on the condition of anonymity, also said that India has exchanged messages with Mullah Baradar, Afghan Taliban’s co-founder. The source also said that there has been a deep lack of trust on both sides so far and so far, no meeting has been confirmed and only conversations of exploratory nature are ongoing.
It should be noted that communication with Baradar is of paramount importance given the fact that he struck an agreement with Mike Pompeo, US’ Secretary of the State which later led to the extraction of American troops from Afghanistan.
Who is Abdul Baradar?
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is Taliban co-founder. During the 80s he served in the Afghan Mujahideen. After co-founding the Taliban, he held multiple positions in the Taliban. According to an unclassified document by US State Department, Baradar was the former Deputy Chief of Army and Commander of Central Army Corps, Kabul. Meanwhile, Interpol has in the past stated that he was the Minister of Defence of Taliban.
After being captured by ISI (Inter-services Intelligence) in 2010, he was part of negotiations with Kabul’s government. In 2018, Baradar was set free by Pakistan and Baradar went on to lead the Doha’s Taliban office.
No official confirmation by Ministry of External Affairs
As of now no formal and official statement has been released by the Indian external affairs ministry. However, the aforementioned Hindustan Times report stated that the outreach with Taliban leaders is in tandem with the Indian government’s outreach to different factions of Afghanistan’s leadership. This includes Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan leaders such as Hamid Karzai and HCNR (High Council of National Reconciliation) head Abdullah.
Taliban still in contact with Al-Qaeda: UN Security Council
It should be noted that a latest report by UN Security Council’s monitoring committee stated how Taliban is still in ties with Al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network which is a cause of worry for India. But the silver lining in the matter is the fact that things in 2021 is still better than last year during the Trump Administration in USA wherein India had little to say and intervene.