Taliban Make Fresh Overtures, Seek Strong Trade and Political Ties with India


Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar .(pic credit: https://twitter.com/GhaniBaradar)

We want our relationship with India to continue as it was before, says Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai, deputy leader of political office in Doha

Team Clarion 

NEW DELHI – A senior Taliban leader Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai has said India is an important country in the region and the group wants extensive trade and economic ties with the fifth largest economy.

“We want our relationship with India to continue as it was before,” the deputy leader of the Taliban’s political office in Doha said in a video message in Pashto. The message was broadcast on Saturday on the group’s social media platforms as also on Afghanistan’s Milli Television.

Stanekzai said that Afghanistan’s trade with India is very important along the way to Pakistan. “We also need to keep air trade open with India.”

His outreach assumes significance as the expert voices in India are asking the government to go for some kind of engagement with the Taliban which is in the process of negotiations to form a government in Kabul. Stanekzai’s remarks also indicate that Taliban is inviting India to continue to play a role in the reconstruction of the war-torn country even as neighbouring Pakistan sees India’s presence there in a negative light. Pakistan has also in the past blocked India’s land route for trade with Afghanistan.

Stanekzai is well-known in India as he had received training at Dehradun’s Indian Military Academy in the 80s as an Afghan army soldier.

“We attach great importance to India in our trade, economic and political relations and want to maintain relations with India.”

Stanekzai also thanked Pakistan in his address for “sheltering the refugees and for allowing our refugees to live there for so many years.”

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