Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has said they will not allow Afghanistan’s soil to be used against any other country and called on India to complete the infrastructure projects if New Delhi wished. “We will not allow any country or any group to use the soil of Afghanistan against anyone. This is clear. India has made projects, many reconstruction and infrastructure projects, and if they want, they can complete the incomplete projects because they are for the people,” Shaheen told a Pakistani news channel in Urdu. His remarks are the first after the Taliban seized power in Kabul on 16 August.
New Delhi has hinted that it has opened channels of communication with the Taliban but is officially yet to recognise the group. India had recently withdrawn all professionals working on development projects in 34 provinces of Afghanistan. India has a total investment of about $ 3 billion in the war-torn country and many important projects like the Shatoot Dam, Salma Dam, Afghanistan’s Parliament and many strategic roads have been built with Indian assistance.
However, last week, the external affairs ministry clarified India has no role once the projects are completed and it would be up to the Afghan people to protect them. Meanwhile, the Taliban spokesperson said the group’s policy does not allow if anyone wants to use Afghan soil for their objectives or for their military objectives or for their rivalries.
Experts fear that for India the first and foremost ramification of Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan will be the threat to its investments. India has been investing in infrastructure, education, medical, agriculture as well as power generation.
However, in May, too, Taliban had said that it would like to have a positive relationship with India and welcomed New Delhi’s cooperation in Afghanistan. Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada had reiterated earlier of the group’s plans to have “positive bilateral relations” with regional countries.
India, which is heading the UNSC presidency for the month of August, said in a recent meeting that it was greatly concerned by the situation in Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover, and said the country’s neighbours would feel safer if the Afghan land is not used for terrorism.
“As a neighbour of Afghanistan and a friend to its people, the current situation prevailing in the country is of great concern to us in India. Afghan men, women and children are living under a constant state of fear. They are uncertain about their future. Everyone is concerned about the increasing violations of the fundamental rights of Afghan citizens. Afghans are worried about whether their right to live with dignity would be respected,” said Ambassador TS Tirumurti.
He said the UNSC hoped the situation would stabilise soon, and the parties concerned address the humanitarian and security issues. “We also hope that there is an inclusive dispensation which represents all sections of Afghan society. Voices of Afghan women, aspirations of Afghan children and the rights of minorities must be respected. A broader representation would help the arrangement gain more acceptability and legitimacy,” he said.