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‘Not a concern for India’: Former envoy to Saudi Arabia on Taliban capture of Afghanistan

By PTI 

BENGALURU: The Taliban occupation of Afghanistan is not a matter of concern for India, a former diplomat said on Tuesday. 

Former Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates Talmiz Ahmed also argued that New Delhi has no role to play in Afghanistan at present, and rejected suggestions that India should engage with the Taliban. 

He termed it “absolute nonsense” to some, expressing the view that India would be “in danger” if the Taliban regained complete control of Afghanistan. “The Taliban are a national movement and they want to control Afghanistan but they have no interest outside Afghanistan,” Ahmed told PTI in a telephonic interview. 

He said that it is Pakistan which for more than 30 years has kept very tight control on the movement of extremists in India and continues to do so. “I don’t see the situation changing just because Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban,” Ahmed said. 

Stating that Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) have “no role” in India, he said Indian Muslims have not been radicalized by these “international movements” for 30 years. “Therefore, I do not believe that there will be any impact in terms of the increase in extremist activities in India,” Ahmed said. 

He said that if Afghanistan becomes a refuge for extremists, it would pose a threat not to India but to Pakistan, China, Russia and the Central Asian republics. 

This is because all of these countries have borders with Afghanistan (Russia through the Central Asian republics) and have a “disturbed and dissatisfied” population who have a record of involvement in international movements (AL Qaeda and IS), said Ahmed. he said. 

According to him, “It is not India that needs to worry, it is these countries that need to worry. That is why Russia and China are in a hurry to engage with the Taliban as they are extremely weak in this regard. ” 

He said that Pakistan has to worry because of its porous border with Afghanistan and free movement of people, he said, adding that it is in Pakistan that there are extremist elements who have links with their counterparts in Afghanistan. 

Ahmed said that at present there is no place or role for India in Afghanistan. “We were fully committed to Kabul’s governance. We tried to strengthen their hands with projects related to national development and welfare, but we had no other means available to strengthen governance,” he said. 

Ahmed said Afghanistan is going to face a prolonged period of turmoil and uncertainty. Neither the Taliban themselves nor their Pakistani masters have any idea of ​​what the next steps are going to be. The Taliban have been a resistance movement but they have not shown the ability to govern. “There will be serious upheaval. I don’t see any room for India,” he said. 

He said there was no point in trying to ally with the Taliban. “There is nothing in common between us and them”. Taliban is a radical movement entirely created and supported by Pakistan. 

He said the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been providing extraordinary funding to the Taliban for the past 20 years. He asked, “Where is the place for India in this dialogue? When someone says ‘Join Taliban’, for what purpose join Taliban and for what purpose?” 

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