Taliban deny ties with Pakistan-based terror groups

Taliban on Sunday (July 18, 2021) said that it has sent a message to international terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) that the soil of Afghanistan will not be used against ‘any other country’.

In an exclusive interview with Zee Media’s Sidhant Sibal, the Taliban’s spokesperson for International Media Suhail Shaheen denied ‘any ties with’ the two Pakistan-based terror groups.

Recently, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had said that intelligence estimates indicate the influx of over ten thousand Jihadi fighters from Pakistan and other places in the past month, a development that comes amid the Taliban making rapid territorial gains.

On protection of major infrastructure projects, Shaheen said that the group has a policy of protecting ‘national projects like dams’.

Sidhant Sibal: Has the Taliban cut ties with the UN listed terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed?

Suhail Shaheen: We have clearly sent a message to all that we are not allowing anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against any other country. We don’t have any ties with them. About India, it is essential for them to remain impartial in the Afghan issue and not to support a moribund regime that is killing its own people day and night by drones, airplanes strikes, and weapons received from foreign countries.

 Sidhant Sibal: Are Taliban and India talking or having some kind of engagement at any level? Any back-channel communication between the two, if yes, how?

Suhail Shaheen: I can’t confirm reports about the Indian delegation meeting with IEA seniors. It has not happened.

 Sidhant Sibal: How do you see India’s development projects, capacity building projects. Can you assure them they will be protected? Recently 16 security personnel were killed in a Taliban attack near the Salma dam in Herat?

Suhail Shaheen: Protection of national projects like dams is an IEA or Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan policy. We have announced this policy more than once. However, Indian military hardware assistance with Kabul which ultimately end killing innocent Afghan people is hostility with the Afghan people. This soil India’s image in the eyes of the Afghan people and send a hostile perception. It is for them to review their position.

 Sidhant Sibal: India has been saying gains of the last 20 years, like women’s rights, minority rights, rights of Hindus, Sikhs should not be impacted? How do you see that, plus, will the rights of minorities be protected? or will they have to flee home to take refuge in India?. A large number have already come to India.

Suhail Shaheen: We are committed to the rights of minorities in Afghanistan and they have equal rights like other Afghans. Similarly, we admit all basic rights of women including access to education and work in the light of our Islamic rules. Moreover, there is no security issue for any Afghan citizen intending to lead a normal life in the country.

 Sidhant Sibal: How do you see the current situation in Afghanistan with violence being increased by Taliban fighters? Do you plan to create an Islamic emirate in the country?

Suhail Shaheen:  Talks are underway in Doha currently. We hope to reach a peaceful solution through talks and form an Afghan inclusive Islamic government where all Afghans would have to participate.