Nearly two weeks after the Taliban took over Kabul, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the insurgent group's deputy head of political office in Doha, Qatar has asserted that it wants to maintain cultural and economic ties with India like in the past.
In an exclusive interview with CNN-NEWS18, Stanekzai who had participated in training at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun in the 1980s as part of the training of Afghan cadets, said that Hindus and Sikhs should not leave Afghanistan and the Taliban government, once formed, would want India to complete its incomplete developmental projects. Excerpts:
How do you see the Taliban's administrative view of India?
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s foreign policy is to have good relations with all our neighbouring countries and with the whole world. The American forces who were in Afghanistan for last the 20 years are now withdrawing from the country, so we will have friendly relations with America (USA) and NATO, too. I think America should take part in the rehabilitation of Afghanistan. The same goes for India, we want to establish friendly relations like before on cultural and economic fronts with India. Not just with India, we want friendly relations with all our neighbouring countries including Tajikistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
There is a fear that the Taliban may be hostile towards India. That Taliban may team up with Pakistan and target India. How do you see this assessment?
Whatever is reported in media is often wrong. There is no such statement or indication from our side. We want good relationships with all our neighbouring counties.
There is a fear that Afghanistan could become a sanctuary for terror groups that are a threat to India such as Lashkar-e Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. What do you say on that?
Throughout history, there has been no threat from Afghanistan to any of its neighbours including, India. And there will be no threat in the future as well. There is no doubt that there has been a long political and geographical dispute between India and Pakistan. We hope they do not use Afghanistan for their internal fight. The two countries can fight among themselves on the border. They should not use Afghanistan for this and we will not let any of the countries use our land for this.
It is indeed a strong statement that you will not allow Lashkar-e Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed to use your territory. Are you are confirming that?
This is our duty we will not allow anyone to use the Afghan side against any country in the world.
You were trained in the Indian Military Academy (IMA) some decades ago. Any memory of that time?
It was during my young age. I was trained there before the Russians came to Afghanistan.
Are you still in touch with any of those people
No, not in India.
Who do you blame for the Kabul attack few days back?
In the media, I have seen that Daish (ISIS- Khorasan Province) took responsibility of the attack
But reports said that, intelligence suggested that Haqqani network will do the blast and ISIS will take the claim. What do you have to say on that?
This is what enemies of the Afghan people will say. This is completely false. Since Daish (ISIS) has taken responsibility, it means they have done it.
There are many Hindus and Sikh who are still in Afghanistan. Will you help India to evacuate them?
I think there is no requirement to evacuate them. Afghanistan is their homeland and they can live here peacefully. There will be no harm to their lives here. They can live as they were living before. We hope that the Hindus and Sikhs who were here in Afghanistan and have migrated in the last 20 years because of that previous regime to India, will come back to Afghanistan soon.
How do you see the recognition of Taliban by the world powers and India?
We are hopeful about that. As the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will have its government, our neighbours and the other countries should have good relations with us. We hope that all those countries in the region and the US will support us
India has done a lot of development work in Afghanistan. What do you think will happen to that?
The development done by in Afghanistan by India is our national asset we will keep it like that and we hope that in the future all incomplete work is completed by India. We invite India to come and start again and complete those projects.
And you will provide all security to them?Yes, if somebody is coming and working in your country then we will have to provide them security. I don't think there is no any need to ask such questions.