The disclosure by Mullah Baradar, the chief Taliban negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace talks, in a video that the entire Taliban leadership is based in Pakistan and that no decision is taken without their advice has exacerbated India’s concerns about the role of ISI in the peace process.
The Afghan govt described the development in a statement on Friday as one that posed a serious challenge to the goal of achieving sustainable peace as closure of training camps in Pakistan is vital for peaceful resolution of the Afghanistan situation.
A series of videos had emerged on Thursday showing visiting Taliban representatives, led by Baradar in Pakistan, disclosing the existence of all Taliban leaders in Pakistan and acknowledging their continued activities on Pakistani territory. They were also seen in the videos visiting training camps, as the Afghanistan foreign ministry confirmed on Friday.
While backing the latest peace process, involving direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban for the first time, India has repeatedly laid stress on the need to ensure that there are no ungoverned spaces left in the country for terrorist activities. External affairs minister S Jaishankar said, while expressing support for the intra-Afghan talks in September, that India’s expectation was that the soil of Afghanistan will never be used for any anti-India activity.
Baradar’s comments in Karachi are significant for India as these reject the understanding that the ISI no longer enjoys the kind of influence with the Taliban that it did earlier. It confirms India’s fears about Taliban terror machinery continuing to function with impunity from Pakistan and about its links with terror groups like LeT and JeM.
India remains an important stakeholder in the war-ravaged country with its developmental work worth billions of dollars.