Days after promising India that Afghanistan will not be used to spread terror in India, the Taliban said it is well within its rights to speak for Muslims anywhere including in Kashmir.
Taliban’s stand on Kashmir matters to India, which is apprehensive about Pakistan teaming up with the militant regime in Afghanistan to stoke trouble in Kashmir.
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told BBC: “We have this right, being Muslims, to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir, India, and any other country. We will raise our voice and say that Muslims are your own people, your own citizens. They are entitled to equal rights under your laws.” Shaheen, however, said the group is against military involvement in any country.
Taliban has been making confusing statements on its stand with regards to Kashmir. In early August, the Taliban had said Kashmir is a “bilateral and an internal matter”.
A few days back, Indian ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s political office in Doha. The meeting came hours after the US officially withdrew all its troops from Afghanistan, ending its 20-year-war. Mittal and Stanekzai discussed safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The Indian ambassador raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-India activities, to which Stanekzai responded positively.
India’s doubts emanate from Taliban’s reputation and past record. Before US entry in Afghanistan, the militant organisation had frequently used its government and Afghanistan soil to foment trouble in India. India The Afghanistan, under Taliban, may become the hub of terrorism, and support Pakistan in bringing back the reign of terror in the Kashmir valley, the Indian administration thinks.
India’s fears are not unfounded though. A few days back, Neelam Irshad Sheikh, a leader of Pakistan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, said in a TV debate that “Taliban will stand by Pakistan in liberating Kashmir”.