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‘Taliban’s first steps reflect mismatch between words and deeds,’ says Indian diplomat

The seasoned Indian diplomat pointed out that regarding the new Taliban government, one should pay attention to some important features

NEW DELHI, September 13. /TASS /. The first steps taken by the Taliban (banned in Russia), who seized control of Afghanistan, often exhibit inconsistencies in their words and actions, renowned Indian diplomat, Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (the first Indian to hold this post) and former Ambassador to Russia from 2011 to 2013, Ajai Malhotra told TASS on Monday.

"Little can be made out about this incarnation of the Taliban so far, but its first steps reflect a mismatch between its words and deeds, which its past performance does not generate confidence in any case. It is also noteworthy that leaders of the Haqqani network, with its strong terrorist moorings, have been assigned important posts in the new cabinet and would be supervising domestic security. Further, the Taliban’s long-standing cohabitation with Al-Qaeda (outlawed in Russia) and some Islamic State (banned in Russia) factions apparently remains undisturbed. All this makes it prudent to approach the new dispensation in Kabul with extreme caution," Malhotra said.

When answering a question on whether the world community should recognize the Taliban government, the Indian diplomat emphasized that it was the sovereign choice of each country. According to Malhotra, "it is certainly premature to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan at this stage and few countries are likely to do so. For now, India would not be one of them."

Warning signs

The seasoned Indian diplomat pointed out that regarding the new Taliban government, one should pay attention to some important features.

"Firstly, this regime has not been elected by the Afghan people and so it lacks democratic credentials. Secondly, the new Cabinet is neither broad-based nor inclusive nor representative. Non-Taliban Pashtuns as well as the local Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities, for example, have been completely sidelined. Thirdly, women have deliberately been excluded from the Cabinet. Fourthly, there are credible reports of journalists being whipped, women intimidated and ridiculous comments being made by the Taliban personalities on local TV about the participation of women in public life. These are disturbing early pointers that not much have changed with the Taliban compared to its profile two decades ago," the Indian diplomat went on to say.

Malhotra noted that the Afghan people were proud, hardy and freedom-loving. So, they are best to judge what the new Taliban governance means to them, according to the envoy.

Afghanistan and India

Malhotra put the spotlight on the mutual sympathy among the Afghan and Indian peoples, which was facilitated by New Delhi’s assistance and broad support in Afghanistan’s development.

"For our bilateral ties to progress, the Taliban would need to decisively and permanently stop terrorist outfits from using Afghan territory as a safe harbor and bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorist acts found on its soil. The UN <…> also demands that the Taliban permit safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid and uphold the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children and minorities," Malhotra emphasized.

"If these benchmarks are met, new vistas for Indian-Afghan cooperation could open up," the Indian diplomat concluded.