NEW DELHI: “The million dollar question is does the Taliban accept, endorse and acknowledge a totally different Afghanistan to what they left it as,” Tahir Qadiry, Afghanistan’s Chargé D’Affaires(CDA) in India asks, adding, “hopes are quite high, that the new Biden administration will take everything into consideration in the review of the agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, because Afghanistan has come a very long way, gained so much and we don’t want to lose it.” He expressed anguish and anger at the Taliban “indiscriminately killing people, now in targeted attacks, adding, “the conditions(of the U.S.-Taliban deal and the U.S.-Afghanistan declaration) have to be met, because we released their prisoners. If they’re committed to peace they have to stop violence, stop killing people and negotiate a deal.” On whether the U.S. will pressure the Taliban to honour its commitments, the outgoing Chargé D’Affaires said, “why not? The basic, number one demand of our people is that the killings, violence must stop. The international community has invested so much in blood and treasure in Afghanistan. This has to be protected and preserved.” Will the root cause—Pakistan’s deep state, safe havens and terrorist support be tackled? The Afghan CDA pointed to “our brave men and women who are using their bodies as shields. We’re in the frontline of ensuring security to the region, the world,” adding, “if Afghanistan is unsafe, the whole region is unsafe”.
India was the first country to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan during Ex-President Hamid Karzai’s visit in October 2011. “That strategic commitment of both countries to stand by each other at this difficult time,” has been reiterated, the CDA told StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s January 2021 Kabul trip and a telephonic talk External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar has had with his counterpart Haneef Atmar. On Delhi possibly engaging with the Taliban, CDA Qadiry said Afghanistan “doesn’t doubt any intentions of the Indian government, because of the shared values and security issues, because India has supported a strong Kabul through thick and thin” and because of the policy that originated in Delhi of an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process.”
The award-winning ex-BBC journalist, appointed as CDA in India by President Ashraf Ghani in May 2019, is expected to take up a new ambassadorial assignment shortly. Afghanistan’s next envoy-designate is Farid Mamundzay. Qadiry concluded the interview by recounting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in the Afghan parliament (built by India at a cost of $ 90 million) on December 25, 2015. Modi quoted actor Pran’s portrayal of pathan ‘Sher Khan’ in the movie ‘Zanjeer’ and the immortal lyrics, ‘yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi’ (friendship is my faith, a friend is my life).