India’s former Ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhyay has said the US idea that the Taliban is only interested in Afghanistan and that it will not contribute to global terrorism is wrong and a matter of concern.
Mukhopadhyay said: “The American philosophy that Taliban is not really an international terrorist organisation and they are interested just in power in Afghanistan and they are not interested in global jihad is wrong. As per the deal, they [Taliban] will stop the global jihadis from using Afghan territory against the US”.
The peace deal, which will see a phased withdrawal of American troops from Afghan territory, promises the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the US. In return, the Taliban will prevent terrorist organisations from using Afghan territory to threaten the security of the US and its allies.
However, Mukhopadhyay believes that it cannot work that cleanly because of the links between the extremist organisations.
He says: “It doesn’t work so cleanly. Many movements are mixed up with this like Pakistani extremist groups, Kashmiri extremist groups or anti-Indian groups or [the] Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or some group in Tajikistan. These groups are interlocked”.
The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and India-based Hizbul Mujahideen have links with each other. There were intelligence reports in February that overground workers of Pakistan-based terror groups were active in India’s Punjab state.
In October 2019, the Indian Home Ministry acknowledged the presence of Daesh in the country and arrested 127 people from different parts of the nation for having links with the terror group.
“They [the US] may think they can take care of global jihad, but, they will not be able to take care of regional jihad and regional jihad will have connection with global jihad. There is Syria, Iraq, Gulf”, says the former Indian ambassador to Afghanistan.
With India having high stakes in Afghanistan and stability being of immense importance to it, New Delhi also fears that once America leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban will come to power, eventually leading to instability in the region.
India in its statement on the US-Taliban peace deal said: “India's consistent policy is to support all opportunities that can bring peace, security and stability in Afghanistan; end violence; cut ties with international terrorism; and lead to a lasting political settlement through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process”.
Mukhopadhyay says that this statement was well measured, as it doesn’t welcome the deal but accepts it and at the same time mentions international terrorism in the second line.
“They are saying out rightly [sic] we will wait to see what will be its impact on global terrorism”, he says.
The peace deal between the Taliban and the US, aimed at ending the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, was launched in 2018. The US and the Taliban movement signed the long-awaited peace agreement on 29 February.