Shameless of India to engage with Afghan Taliban: NSA


ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf has said it is "shameless" of India to engage the Afghan Taliban in Qatar after having supported operations against the insurgent group for a long time.

Yusuf was talking on TV channel on Monday regarding Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s recent stopovers in Doha to meet with the Taliban leadership in the Qatari capital twice in the last three weeks.

Earlier this month, Indian publication The Hindu quoted a senior Qatari official as confirming that Indian officials made a “quiet visit” to Doha in order to meet the Taliban’s political leadership based there.

Qatar’s Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani was quoted by the paper as saying: “I understand that there has been a quiet visit by Indian officials to speak to the Taliban.”z

Asked whether the Indian government had opened direct talks with the Taliban during a press conference on June 10, the spokesperson of India's foreign ministry Arindam Bagchi said the country was in contact with “various stakeholders” in Afghanistan. He also referred to Jaishankar’s participation in the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan talks with Taliban leaders in Doha last year.

"I want to ask this: with what [moral] standing did this Indian high-level official meet [the Taliban] there? Did they not feel ashamed?" Yusuf said when asked how Pakistan viewed the India-Taliban meetings.

"[The Indians] kept having the Taliban killed daily and kept giving funds for operations against them and today they have reached there to have talks," he added.

He said the meetings were "a matter of shame" and not a strategic move.

Yusuf emphasised that the Taliban whom the Indians had met were also "not stupid", saying he was not concerned by the contacts between India and the insurgent group amid the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"You should also ask what response the [Indians] got from the [Taliban]," he added.

When pressed for the reply received by India, Yusuf only said: "Ask them and they will be ashamed more [by what has been conveyed to them]."

Asked about the possibility of Pakistan getting the heat of the US-China rivalry, Yusuf said the country might face a tough situation if it gave up on its principles. "If you don’t take a stand then when the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled," he added.

The NSA remarked that no one was stopping the European Union and US to invest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other projects in the country.

Speaking about Pakistan-India relations, the NSA said there were no backdoor talks or dialogue between the two countries for now, but that Pakistan was waiting for what had been conveyed to New Delhi.

India contacted us [and said] that they wanted to fix [relations] and we told them we desired the restoration of pre-August 2019 status of Indian-occupied Kashmir; besides, our policy is based on the ease of life for Kashmiris,’’ he stated, adding they the Indians had been conveyed that Pakistan wanted to see the desired change on the ground.

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