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People-centric policy will guide India’s engagement with Taliban – Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has hinted at the possibility of heightened interaction with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He said that India prioritises delivering humanitarian aid instead of seeking political objectives in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a media conference in Delhi on Thursday, Jaishankar said that India’s priority is to help the Afghan people in difficult times.

Talking about the technical team that India deployed in Kabul in 2022, he said: “After the return of Taliban to power in 2021, like every other country, we had our security concerns. However, now we have dispatched a technical team to observe the situation in Kabul”.

India had sent a technical team to the war-ravaged country in June 2022 after a devastating earthquake hit the eastern parts of the landlocked nation. The technical team had brought the first consignment of earthquake relief assistance to Afghanistan. Since then, India has been delivering food and medical assistance to Afghanistan regularly as the country deals with natural calamities also.

Jaishankar said: “I mean, this is a country which had a vaccine shortage, wheat shortage, medicine shortage. You know, there are projects that will get into difficulty with the passage of time. The focus right now in Afghanistan is less, I would say, political. It is more like helping the Afghan people because Afghan people are people with whom we have a historical connection. So, that is really the current state of the situation”.

However, Jaishankar stressed that there has been no change in the country’s stance over relations with the Taliban government. He was explicit that though India is maintaining relations with the Taliban, New Delhi has not accorded formal recognition to the regime as yet – an act that is in line with the rest of the world.

Countries are insisting that the Taliban, which stormed to power in August 2021 after the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government, should frame an inclusive government with minority representation and women. The international community has also insisted that the Taliban allow girls to go to school and similarly, gives the rights to women to work.

Nearly a dozen countries including China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan have begun to operate their missions in Kabul.