In a statement that has raised many eyebrows in Delhi, Taliban issued a diplomatically-calibrated statement on the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir where they expressed “deep sadness” and urged India and Pakistan to “refrain” from taking steps that could “pave a way for violence”.
Top Indian government sources said the statement appeared genuine, as South Block has crosschecked this with some international interlocutors.
Sources in Delhi perceived this carefully-crafted statement to have been issued with the influence of international interlocutors, as the statement cautioned against linking the issue of Kashmir with Afghanistan — something that Pakistan has been advocating for the last few days.
While it seems odd that the Taliban has issued a statement which is contrary to Pakistan’s position, sources said this possibly indicates Taliban’s desire to close the deal with the US — and it doesn’t want the Kashmir issue to complicate the process.
The Indian side had briefed US envoy on Taliban talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, when he visited India and met External Affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday. The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill to scrap J&K’s special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories Monday. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha Tuesday.
After the meeting with Khalilzad, Jaishankar tweeted, “Useful discussions with US Special Representative @US4AfghanPeace Zalmay Khalilzad. Provided a comprehensive update on the situation in Afghanistan. Shared views on how we could work together effectively.”
Khalilzad tweeted on Wednesday, “At Hyderabad House yesterday, I had a detailed discussion with Indian Foreign Minister @DRSJaishankar on the #AfghanPeaceProcess. Briefed him & sought his views. #India has an important role to play in helping deliver & sustain a durable peace in #Afghanistan.”
The Taliban’s statement, published online, said, “The Islamic Emirate expresses deep sadness in this regard and urges both India and Pakistan to refrain from taking steps that could pave a way for violence and complications in the region and usurp the rights of Kashmiris.”
“Having gained bitter experiences from war and conflict, we urge peace and use of rational pathways to solve regional issues,” it said. The statement was issued by Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Zabihullah Mujahid. “We call on both involved parties, OIC, Islamic countries, the United Nations and other influential institutions to play a constructive role in preventing insecurity in Kashmir. By using your influence, encourage both sides to prevent the spread of crisis and resolve the issue in a calm and composed manner,” it said.
“… the issue of Afghanistan is not related nor should Afghanistan be turned into the theatre of competition between other countries,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Delhi is monitoring statements from OIC countries. So far, UAE and Maldives have said it is an internal matter of India, while Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have pointed to the UNSC resolutions. Turkey has expressed concern and offered mediation.