New Delhi: In a first, foreign ministry officials of the Taliban government in Afghanistan are expected to take part in an online training course organised under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) — the leading capacity building platform of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) — ThePrint has learnt.
Officials told ThePrint, however, that this does not reflect a change in New Delhi’s policy towards the Taliban government in Kabul.
Currently, the Indian government does not have an official diplomatic presence in Kabul but in July 2022, India reopened its embassy in Kabul as a “technical mission”. The existing embassy in New Delhi is run by Afghan officials who were part of the former Ashraf Ghani-run government.
According to a purportedly leaked letter from the Taliban government’s foreign ministry, the four-day course, starting today, is being conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Kozhikode.
The Indian government has in the past trained Afghan diplomats, back when a democratic government was in power in Kabul. In the early 2010s, the Indian government was providing over 600 annual ITEC training scholarships for Afghan public servants. Later in 2018, India and China jointly trained 10 Afghan diplomats.
In February 2022, the ITEC had provided relief to 80 Afghan military cadets stuck in India by offering them a one-year English language course. These cadets were not part of the Taliban regime but the previous democratic government.
Earlier this year, ThePrint reported that the Taliban has begun pushing the Indian government to allow it to station a representative in New Delhi and that Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson for the Taliban regime’s foreign ministry, was a proposed candidate.
The leaked letter from the Afghan foreign ministry’s Institute of Diplomacy, indicates that Taliban foreign ministry officials will be attending the course hosted by IIM-Kozhikode titled ‘Immersing in Indian Thoughts’.
According to the ITEC website, the course — which is open to foreign delegates from across the world and not just Afghanistan — aims to give participants an opportunity to learn about India’s economic environment, regulatory ecosystem, social and historical backdrop, cultural heritage, legal and environmental landscape, consumer mind-sets and business risks.
“This programme facilitates a deeper understanding of the latent order within the apparent chaos that will help foreign officials and executives gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of India’s business environment,” states the ITEC website.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)
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