India, frequently targeted by terrorists in Afghanistan, had opposed talks with the Taliban and had urged the US to stay the course
India’s guarded comments, made by Jaishankar, are significant to the international community
India on Monday said the last two decades of gains made in Afghanistan should be preserved after the departure of US troops, and hoped for “clear answers" to emerge on the contours of the new political set up, particularly the role of the Taliban in the insurgency-racked South Asian nation.
India’s guarded comments, made by foreign minister S. Jaishankar, are significant to the international community, coming as they do just two days after the US and the rebel Taliban signed a deal, which will allow American troops to exit the country after more than 18 years.
Speaking at an event organized by the New Delhi-based think tank, Centre for Policy Research, Jaishankar said for the present, “the US is talking about thinning down its presence and providing support for the government in Kabul and the ANSDF (Afghan National Self Defence Forces). How that plays out obviously time will tell."
He noted that present-day Afghanistan was not what it was in 2000-01, when Taliban militants were pushed out of Kabul by US-led forces as part of its War on Terrorism campaign. India, frequently targeted by terrorists in Afghanistan, had opposed talks with the Taliban and had urged the US to stay the course.
However, on Monday, Jaishankar said: “Last 18 years have brought about big changes. So...I would remind people that this is not the Afghanistan of 2000 or 2001. Many things have happened since then."
“To the US and to the West, our message has been that through the achievement of the last 18 years, it is in global interest that those achievements are secured and they are protected, they are not jeopardized by what we are going to do. I think we have to wait and see how this plays out...to my mind, the real negotiations will start right now," Jaishankar said.
On Saturday, the US and the Taliban signed a deal that will help the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies to cut down the number of troops in Afghanistan. The US has some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, while Nato has some 16,000. The US is looking to bring down its numbers to 8,600 in 135 days of signing the pact with the Taliban provided violence is kept to a minimum. Nato is to bring down its troops to 12,000.