Ahmad Shuja Jamal, a key official in Afghanistan’s National Security Council (NSC), has hit out at Pakistan after the Taliban’s killing of Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui. Jamal directly blamed Pakistan for providing “state support” to the Taliban and helping it in conducting terror activities on Afghan land. Jamal, who is the head of international relations and regional cooperation (IRRC) at the Office of the NSC of Afghanistan, spoke to India Today in an exclusive interview.

“The Taliban would not have been this strong if not for Pakistan’s state support. Pakistan helps in the infiltration of foreign fighters of Lashkar, Jaish, Haqqani. They strategise on how to help the Taliban,” he said.

Speaking about the death of Pulitzer-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, Jamal said, “The Afghan authorities are coordinating for early repatriation of Danish Siddiqui’s mortal remains to India.”

Danish Siddiqui, who was on a reporting assignment embedded with the Afghan Special Forces, was killed when clashes broke out between the security forces and Taliban fighters in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar city on Friday.

The head of IRRC at Aghanistan’s NSO also conveyed his condolences to the family of Danish Siddiqui and the grieving media fraternity.

Meanwhile, Jamal also echoed India’s claims that it is an “important player” in the rapidly-changing political scenario of Afghanistan.

“India is an important player. India has been wanting to be part of the various peace negotiations. Afghanistan supports that,” Jamal said. However, he also claimed that Afghan forces are “capable of fighting the Taliban”.

Speaking about the Taliban offer of a three-month ceasefire in exchange for the release of 7,000 insurgent prisoners, Jamal said, “The ceasefire offer is conditional. They demand prisoners which is not fully acceptable.”