As India continues to maintain a neutral stance on the Afghan takeover by Taliban, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) expresses concern regarding use of Afghan soil as sanctuaries for launching terror against India. Days after New Delhi held its first acknowledged talks with the Taliban, the MEA outlined New Delhi’s position on Thursday.
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of the MEA stated that India is focused on evacuating its citizens from Afghanistan. “Our main concern, one of the primary, immediate concerns is that Afghan soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities or terrorism against India. That is one of our main issues.” said Bagchi during the press briefing. Bagchi avoided questions poised at him regarding India’s stance on recognising the legitimacy of Taliban as the government of the war-torn nation.
India’s focus is not on whether the Taliban is a terror organisation, and “the focus, let me reiterate, is that Afghan soil should not be used for terrorist activities of any kind or [for] anti-India activities and we will try to focus on that element”, Bagchi said. He also added “Let’s just treat the Doha meeting for what it is – it is just a meeting and I think these are still very early days.” Upon being questioned upon why Taliban officially didn’t recognise the meeting with India earlier this Tuesday, and why no photographs were taken, Bagchi responded by saying “I think it just didn’t happen, it’s just a meeting, it wasn’t really that kind of an event where photos are taken. I don’t think there’s any thought behind it [that] we don’t have a photo of it. I think neither side took a photo.”
Tuesday’s meeting between India’s envoy to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, and Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai, head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, was the first ever dialogue with Taliban since the latter took over the country and declared its governance on August 15th. It is however to be noted that the Indian government did hold ties with several factional leaders of the Taliban even before the Taliban took over the country.
Upon being questioned about the ongoing evacuation and incoming refugees from Afghanistan, Bagchi added that emergency e-visas being issued since August 16 were valid for six months. Other Afghans who were already in India had had their visas automatically extended during the pandemic, and internal discussions were ongoing on other “specific issues”.