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‘U.S. May See Taliban As A Credible Bet In The Long Term’

NEW DELHI: The Islamic State’s claimed attack on a Sikh gurudwara and dharamshala in Kabul that killed at least 25 people on Wednesday, may not be directed at India.  Rather it fits in with that movement’s anti-non Muslim attitude, says India’s ex-envoy to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhaya. Speaking to StratNews Global Editor Surya Gangadharan and Associate Editor Amitabh P.Revi in this week’s ‘Talking Point’ programme, he pointed to more disturbing long term portents with the U.S. threatening to cut all financial assistance to the Ashraf Ghani government.  The U.S. seems to have concluded that the Taliban is its best bet and it should withdraw financially and militarily leaving the Afghans to fight it out among themselves. On India’s $ 3 billion investment in Afghanistan’s reconstruction, Mukhopadhyaya believes that it is not lost capital and even the Taliban understands India’s value. In his view, India has not missed the bus in engaging with the Taliban and the right time is when intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban begin. On the Coronavirus danger leading to possibly 80 % of the Afghan population being infected, Ambassador Mukhopadhaya says the U.S. may use that as another excuse to withdraw but should resist that temptation.

Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhaya served as Charge d’affaires in Kabul in 2001-02, as India’s ambassador to Afghanistan from 2010–13. He was also India’s ambassador to Myanmar from 2013–16; and Ambassador to Syria from 2006–09.    

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