India conducts first meeting with Taliban

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), its Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal, met the head of the Taliban’s political office, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, on August 31, 2021.

Highlights

  • With this meeting, the Government of India has softened its stance on the Taliban.
  • Indian security officials and diplomats already understood to have engaged with Taliban representatives for several months.
  • This meeting was held on the request of Taliban, because Taliban leaders have been keen to receive acceptability.
  • During the meeting, discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals who were stranded in Afghanistan.
  • India’s only concern was that “Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for any anti-Indian activities and terrorism”.
  • During the meeting, Taliban leader assured the Indian Ambassador that all issues will be positively addressed.

Stranded Indians in Afghanistan

140 Indians and members of the Sikh minority are still remaining in Kabul. India has transported 565 people, including 112 Afghan nationals to Delhi, so far. This numbers have been far lower as compared to countries like the U.S. US has evacuated 1,22,000 people, including about 1,00,000 Afghan nationals.

Issue with Haqqani group

This meeting was held after India was recalibrating its earlier position on the Taliban as a terrorist group, as the Taliban militants took control of Afghanistan on August 15. In particular, India has had concerns regarding the Haqqani group, which is a part of the Taliban as well as Taliban Deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, who carried the attacks on the Indian Embassy in 2008-2009. Further, it is believed that the Taliban is a proxy of Pakistan.

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