New Delhi: India will be participating as an “observer” in Doha, where the US-led Taliban peace deal will be signed on 29 February, to “understand the situation” and not be a party to it as New Delhi is firm on its stance that it will not negotiate with the Taliban, ThePrint has learnt.
India, which received an official invitation to attend the signing event, will be represented by its ambassador to Qatar P. Kumaran.
This is the first time India will be officially participating in the Taliban talks.
Ever since the US-Taliban talks began two years ago, India has remained out of it and has publicly said that New Delhi will only take part in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led talks.
India has always expressed concern over bringing the Taliban into the mainstream as it believes this will give Pakistan a free hand in the region.
India’s approach has always been that of “peace and reconciliatory”, diplomatic sources said.
In 2018, India took part in the Moscow format talks with the Taliban. India was then represented by its former envoy to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan and ex-ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha, who was also the secretary at the MEA.
On his visit to India earlier this week, US President Donald Trump had said that during his bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they both discussed the Taliban peace deal.
“I spoke with Prime Minister Modi today (Tuesday) and I think they (India) would very much like to see it happen and we’re pretty close,” Trump had said at a press conference.
“We’ve got two days now under our belt without violence, or I guess a minimum of violence, and we’ll see what happens. But people want to see it,” he had added.
Trump had also said the US is aiming to bring down its troops to 8,600 from around 12,000 stationed there at present as it aims to end the 19-year-old war.
According to the American President, he does not see this as a defeat and said the US can easily “win the war” in Afghanistan if he “wanted to kill millions of people” but that his not his intention.
“So let’s see what happens, so far so good,” Trump had said during his India visit.
After deal, Taliban to talk to Afghan govt
The Taliban has vowed to implement a policy of “reduction in violence” that will now culminate in signing of the deal this Saturday.
According to the peace deal, the Taliban has agreed to not allow Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups to proliferate in their territory.
Following the peace deal, the Taliban would enter into direct talks with the Afghanistan government as part of the intra-Afghan dialogue.
Intra-Afghan dialogue is a key feature in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s proposed seven-point plan. The plan includes the Afghan government speaking to the Taliban as well as Pakistan and other stakeholders after the departure of foreign troops from there.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had earlier told ThePrint that India should be on board and be part of the US-led peace talks.
The US-led process had come to an abrupt halt last year in September as Trump refused to negotiate with the Taliban after the killing of US soldiers there.
Peace deal ‘historic’
The Taliban was overthrown in 2001 by a US-led military coalition for supporting Al-Qaeda, which had carried out the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban has been long demanding a complete withdrawal of foreign troops in order to “end the occupation” in Afghanistan.
Under the Trump administration, the Taliban peace talks began under US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.
Last week, deputy leader of the Taliban Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote an opinion in The New York Times in which he called the peace deal a “historic agreement” that will lead towards “lasting peace and lay the foundation of a new Afghanistan”.