Senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stankzai, who was trained at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), has made a big announcement on relations with India. Stankzai has said that the Taliban wants to continue Afghanistan’s political, economic and cultural ties with India. For the first time since the capture of Kabul, a top Taliban leader has expressed his organization’s view on relations with India. Earlier, only Taliban spokesman used to speak on this issue.
Taliban releases 46-minute video
Stanakzai has spoken extensively in Pashto about the end of the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s plan to create an Islamic administration based on Sharia. The Taliban has posted a nearly 46-minute video of Sher Mohammad Abbas Stankzai on its social media platform. He also spoke about the Taliban’s views on relations with major countries in the region, including India, Pakistan, China and Russia.
Top Taliban leader’s first statement on relations with India
The Taliban have held the reins of power in Afghanistan since the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government on August 15. Taliban spokespersons Suhail Shaheen and Zabiullah Mujahid have also expressed their group’s views on relations with India on several media platforms. However, Stankzai is the first senior Taliban leader to make a statement on relations with other countries.
Will continue cultural, economic and trade ties with India
He said that India is very important for this subcontinent. We wish to continue our cultural, economic and trade ties with India as before. Underlining Taliban’s plans for trade in the region, he said that trade with India through Pakistan is very important for us. With India, trade through air corridors will also remain open.
Taliban will trade through Pakistan
However, he did not specify whether trade through India should be two-way or not. Pakistan has allowed Afghan traders to send their goods to India through its territory, but has never allowed Indian goods to be carried from Pakistani soil to Afghanistan. Stankzai said that we attach due importance to our political, economic and trade relations with India and we want these relations to continue. We look forward to working with India in this regard.
Taliban also spoke on TAPI pipeline and Chabahar
Speaking about Afghanistan’s relations with Turkmenistan, Stanakzai referred to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. He said the Taliban would work to address the problems blocking the project once the government was formed. Stankzai, speaking about the relationship with Iran, also mentioned the Chabahar port developed by India and highlighted its importance for trade.
Taliban leader said ‘thank you’ to Pakistan
He thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees and said that Afghanistan wants to build fraternal relations with Pakistan. He also talked about relations with China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Russia.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai