South Asia and Beyond

“Categorically Deny Taliban-JeM, LeT Links; Exploring India Resuming Afghan Development Projects”

New Delhi: On ‘The Gist’Abdul Qahar Balkhi, Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs(MoFA), Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan(IEA) in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.

Editor’s Note: This interview was recorded hours before U.S. President Joe Biden announced, “on Saturday, at my direction, the United States successfully conducted an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed the emir of al-Qa’ida: Ayman al-Zawahiri”.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Spokesperson of the IEA earlier lashed out at the U.S. action saying he “strongly condemned this attack on any pretext”, and describing it as “a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement. Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region. Repeating such actions will damage the available opportunities”.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement said, “by hosting and sheltering the leader of al Qa’ida in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries. They also betrayed the Afghan people and their own stated desire for recognition from and normalization with the international community. In the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, we will continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and to advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially of women and girls.”

In this exclusive interview to StratNews GlobalAbdul Balkhi, the IEA MoFA Spokesperson categorically denies several UN reports, based on intelligence supplied by member states, that Al-Qaeda has a haven in Afghanistan under the Taliban and ‘increased freedom of action’ and that Pakistan-based and India-focused Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM) continue to maintain significant presence in Afghanistan, saying, “the government of Afghanistan has a policy of non interference and it has made a commitment to the world. We announced this in the Tashkent conference as well. That no group or individual will be allowed to use the territory of Afghanistan against any other country”.

The IEA MoFA Spokesperson described India’s reopening its Kabul Embassy in June as a “very good step that India has taken and we welcome it with open arms”.

Watch this interview for more on why the IEA is interested in India’s return to Afghanistan, the security assurances given to Indians and Indian interests, and what is being “explored” in the $3.1 billion in aid and development projects that India executed or was working on in Afghanistan. He also discusses Daesh or the ‘Islamic State in Khorasan Province’, its claimed attacks on a Kabul gurudwara, mosques and minorities, the return of two dozen Indian Military Academy trained Afghan cadets to Kabul last month, the IEA position on Kashmir, its relations with Pakistan, the clashes along the Durand Line, Pakistan’s talks with the TTP, girls, women’s and minority rights, targeting of people connected to the Islamic Republic government, the international conference in Tashkent that the IEA attended, international recognition and removal of sanctions, the relationship with China and the agreement of an oil exploration partnership, cricket and the IPL Afghan connect.

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