Won't Allow Afghan Soil for Proxy Conflict, Want Good Ties: Taliban Spokesperson Assures India

Manoj Gupta
·6-min read

The Taliban is independent and will have its own foreign policy wherein it would want to share a good relationship with all its neighbours in the region. In an exclusive interview to CNN News18’s Manoj Gupta, the Taliban’s political spokesperson Muhammad Naeem Wardak spoke on a range of issues, including India’s concerns of Taliban support to the ISI, LeT and Jaish.

Edited excerpts:

How does the Taliban see the new deal of withdrawal of forces in September 2021? Will you attend the Turkey conference?

The withdrawal of foreign troops has been agreed at the Doha agreement. Now, the timing was changed by the United States and it is a major breach of the agreement, which shows that the US has no commitment. Turkey’s position on the conference is still the same. There is nothing new about it. Unfortunately, America is not working as per the commitment.

How do you see the new Afghanistan post withdrawal of forces of the US and NATO?

Withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan is a good step. Afghanistan will be a free and independent nation without the presence of foreign forces. The freedom that Afghans have sacrificed so much in past, the freedom that every country and every nation wants and considers it their right.The Joe Biden administration has given a new date of forces’ withdrawal. How do you react to that?

The withdrawal of foreign troops after May 1 is a unilateral and irrational decision by the United States. The decision showed to the world that commitment and spirituality are of no value to America, and that it is a great spiritual defeat for the US. On the contrary, the Islamic Emirate has always kept its promises and obligations — a spiritual and great achievement. The Islamic Emirate will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of its people. The withdrawal of foreign troops after the end of April is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement that the United States had signed with the rest of the world.

Let us talk about a scenario when the US decides not to withdraw forces even after September 2021.

This question has been answered before, but in our opinion, in the event of a breach of the agreement, whatever happens in Afghanistan, the United States will be responsible for it, because it violated the agreement signed before the world.

There is a fear in the world that if the Taliban comes back to power in Afghanistan, the situation will be like 1996 and even worse. Any lessons the Taliban learnt during these years? Establishing the Islamic State is fine, but development is the key for the future even for Taliban.

This fear is not correct. Both times and circumstances have changed, when the Islamic Emirate came to power in Afghanistan, the country was practically divided. There were separate governments in every part of the country. Kabul was divided into tribes and parties. The Islamic Emirate was able to unite the country and bring unity, security and prosperity among the people as well as prevented the drug menace. Even now, if the Islamic Emirate comes to power, it will prevent corruption in all areas of Afghanistan.

Liberating the country, bringing security to the people and preventing corruption are never and should not be considered as obstacles to progress, but are the necessary steps for real progress that must be taken.

After Doha agreement, the Kabul administration released Talibani prisoners as part of its commitment. But there are reports that these prisoners are back to cadres and they have again picked up guns. Don’t you think this is breach of trust and agreement?

The Islamic Emirate has not violated the agreement. It has asked the Mujahideen, who were released as part of the agreement, to go home, continue their studies and serve their families because they have spent most of their time in jihad and imprisonment. They also have the right to earn their livelihood. By the grace of god, Islamic Emirate has sufficient mujahideen and does not need more.

It should be noted that in many places, these detainees have been recaptured from their homes. Their homes have been raided in the night, they and their families have been martyred, and even gatherings have been bombed. Local officials have also told the families of the released prisoners that if they come back home, they will be arrested, killed or their house raided at night. Most detainees still cannot return to their homes or areas and then they are taken back to the prison. They also have right to defend themselves.

How does the Taliban see its relationship with India in future? If the Taliban shares power in Kabul, will you accept India as one of the regional partners?

The foreign policy of the Islamic Emirate is to establish relations with its neighbours, regional countries, and the rest of the world on the basis of respect and interaction. The Islamic Emirate will follow this policy to seek positive relations with all its neighbours and others across the world.

India has a valid concern that ISI-supported terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba are active in Afghanistan and are targeting Indian interests with the help of Talibans. We also have information that Jaish has training facilities in Nangarhar district. Some of these terror groups use Afghanistan as a training ground to stage attacks in Kashmir. What are your views on this?

This is not true. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan does not operate outside its own country. Our policy is not to interfere in anyone’s internal affairs and not to allow others to interfere in ours. There is no foreign activity against anyone in the areas under the control of the Islamic Emirate, nor does the Islamic Emirate allow anyone to operate against any foreign country. The Islamic Emirate is a united, pure Afghan and national power, whose goal is the independence of its country and the establishment of an Islamic system in accordance with the aspirations and sacrifices of the people in the country and not allowing anyone to invade Afghanistan’s territory.

The Islamic Emirate is a united national force, it has no factions, it has an emir and a leader, and any propaganda made by the enemy is untrue.

A major concern for India is also ISI and Pakistan. Both are taking claims for the revival of Taliban in Afghanistan because they negotiated everything for the Taliban and they attended all peace talks. What if they want the Taliban to join their non-state actors like LET and JEM?

Who cares about whom and who does not or how they adjust their policies against their rivals is not our concern. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has proved to Afghans and the world that it is an independent entity. Its decisions are independent and will always remain independent. It is not under the influence of anyone and it will never be so.

Any message you want to convey to the Indian government or people of India for the future relationship between India and Afghanistan?

We still say that the Islamic Emirate does not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against another country, group or individual. It should also be made clear that the Islamic Emirate will never allow anyone to turn the soil of Afghanistan into an arena of proxy conflicts and disputes.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on all to assist the Afghan people in achieving independence and freedom, in the light of the values of the people, in the establishment of an independent Islamic system and in the reconstruction of the country.

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