NEW DELHI: Claiming that they were not in direct conflict with India, Taliban have said there was a possibility of reconciliation even as they justified the February 26 Kabul attack on Indians as a legitimate action.
In an interview with Times of India, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed his organisation did not want India out of Afghanistan but assailed the country for supporting Hamid Karzai’s government and western forces.
“If the Taliban return to power, we would like to maintain normal relations with countries including India. It’s possible for the Taliban and India to reconcile with each other,” Mujahid said.
He said: “India’s role is different from those countries that sent troops to occupy Afghanistan.” At the same time, he added that “India isn’t neutral in the Afghan conflict as it is supporting the military presence of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and working for the strengthening of the Hamid Karzai government”.
Also, he said, “India has never condemned the civilian casualties caused by the occupying forces”.
Asked about the February 26 attack in which Indians, housed in two hotels in Kabul, were targeted, the spokesman said Taliban were responsible for it.
He said it was carried out by “Taliban fighters after we got intelligence information that RAW agents were holding a meeting there”. The attack claimed the lives of seven Indians. Claiming that India was supporting the Afghan government and the western forces, Mujahid said the country was “therefore, a legitimate target for us”.
Asked if Taliban wanted India out of Afghanistan, he said, “We are not saying that India should be out of Afghanistan. Nor can India be completely expelled from Afghanistan.”
The Taliban spokesman noted that India and Afghanistan have had historic ties and said: “The Taliban aren’t in any direct conflict with India. India troops aren’t part of Nato forces, they haven’t occupied Afghanistan.”
He claimed that Taliban “favour neither India nor Pakistan” but hastened to add that they cannot “ignore Pakistan as it is a neighbouring Islamic country” and was on good terms with them when they were in power.
“India, on the other hand, backed anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance and refused to do business with our government... India backed the NA, and is now supporting the Karzai government.”
—Dawn/ Times of India News Service