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India begins engagement with the Taliban amid brainstorming on policy options

India holds talks with Taliban leadership

India, despite holding its first official talks with the Taliban on Tuesday, will take a decision on its future Afghan policy only after considerable deliberations guided by its national interests. Sources said that such “major” foreign policy decisions cannot be taken in any hurry. Before taking any concrete stand on its Afghanistan policy, New Delhi will closely study the on ground-situation in the country and the finer contours of the Taliban regime.

Two people familiar with the development said that “the coming few days or weeks” will be crucial as that would give an indication on how the Taliban is planning to steer the country.  

On Tuesday, after the US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal held direct talks with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban's Political Office in Doha. 

Also read: India and Taliban open direct talks in Doha hours after US exit from Afghanistan

While the meeting has raised curiosity among foreign policy watchers and international communities on whether India would recognise the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, insiders said that “such a decision” cannot be in such a short span of time.

“Afghanistan is an important country for India, our focus continues to be the people of the country. We have always had close ties with the country and we are hoping that the situation normalises there," Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP's national spokesperson told India Narrative. "Our immediate priority right now is to bring people back –those who come back—from Afghanistan,” Agarwal added.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has been making attempts to reach out to India. On Saturday, Stanekzai said that India is an important country in the region and that the new government would like to continue with the cultural and economic ties with New Delhi. Stanekzai also showed keenness in resuming air services between Kabul and New Delhi.

India has invested over $3 billion in the country in building dams, roads, electricity transmission lines besides schools and hospitals in the war-torn country. Even the country’s Parliament building has been built by India. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

Sources said that India will also look at ensuring protection to the investments made.

Also read: Pentagon news leak sparks row: Easing rules led to Kabul airport suicide bombing?

Earlier, chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that New Delhi will provide all possible assistance to “Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance”.

The United Nations, under India’s presidency, adopted a resolution giving de facto recognition to the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. According to a statement issued by the United Nations, “13 of the 15 ambassadors voted in favour of the resolution, which further demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism.” Permanent members China and Russia however abstained.