Kabul looks forward to India’s help: Afghan ambassador
'Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been great supporters of the Afghan people and the govt'
Afghanistan is in a dire situation with over 3,600 people having been killed over the past 10 weeks, 200,000 people being displaced internally and conflict in 150 districts, said Farid Mamundzay, the country’s ambassador to India in an exclusive interview to indianexpress.com.
“We are faced with economic hardship,” Mamundzay told the Indian Express in an interview in New Delhi. “The Covid-19-induced lockdowns and the crisis had made deteriorating life even more jeopardised for the general public. We are going through a very difficult time.”
While Afghanistan’s armed forces were doing an incredible job to ensure the safety and security of the country and its people, it still needs international assistance and support to make the army capable enough to take on terrorist groups, he added.
Asked about reports of India’s possible engagements with the Taleban, the ambassador said it could not be officially confirmed at this stage. However, the Taleban “will talk to the Afghan people and Afghan government. And we want the Taleban to let go of violence, cut ties with international terrorist groups, and become part of the mainstream polity of the country in a peaceful manner, in a peaceful way,” he added.
And strong messages from India would certainly help convey that it needs to cut ties with regional terrorist groups. “Messages that India would continue to support Afghanistan, should Taleban become part of the mainstream society again,” he explained. “India would continue to assist Afghanistan in education, politically, diplomatically. Those would go a long way I hope with the Taleban.”
The Indian government can send a message to the Taleban that it should let go of violence and become part of mainstream society, added Mamundzay.
Asked about the reasons why the Indian government evacuated its officials from the consulate in Kandahar, the ambassador admitted that security was an issue in both Kandahar and Herat. While the Afghan government did not come across any specific threat in the two cities, the general security conditions were fluid, he said.
“To avoid any potential catastrophe in one way or another, to either the property or personnel of the mission is something that we would want to avoid,” he said. “In evacuating the Indians, that is something that would ensure avoiding those unwanted catastrophes.”
Mamundzay agreed that an element of fear existed among ordinary Afghans, “that, should we not be assisted, should we not be supported to the level where we would be fully capable of securing Afghanistan and combat Taleban, we would certainly be heading back to that direction.”
The ambassador also said that as a member of the UN Security Council, India had international responsibility, which included telling the Taleban to cut ties with all terrorist groups, not only regional terrorist ones.
“Yes, the regional ones will certainly ensure India’s immediate security interest,” he explained. “But if there are terrorists elsewhere in the world, that will still harm India’s interest, directly or indirectly. So, it is in everybody’s interest — it is in India’s interest, Afghanistan’s interest, many countries in the region and beyond this region, to have no terrorists in Afghanistan.”
Mamundzay avoided responding to queries relating to tensions between India and Pakistan and its spillover to Afghanistan. He said Afghans were to a large extent independent and they decided for themselves. “But Pakistan holds a considerable amount of influence and leverage with Taleban who again are part of Afghan society,” explained the diplomat. “And our requests to Pakistan have always been to use, and productively utilise their influence to bring Taleban to the negotiating table, to make them agree to a process which would make this region prosper. We understand that Pakistan may not fully control the Taleban, but they have good influence over them. And that influence should be used for, at least, on making this region peaceful and prosperous.”
Afghanistan has not yet officially requested India for military assistance, as the ones it gets from the NATO and US forces are sufficient now. “We have the capacity of utilising those resources and assets,” he said. However, “should we require more assistance, yes, we will certainly be seeking assistance from India. But as of right now, there are no such requests from our side to the Indian government.”
Both Russia and China, as major powers in the region and globally and as members of the UN Security Council, can put a lot of pressure on the Taleban to come to the negotiating table. “We seek no military support from the major countries in the region, as long as Taleban agree to come to the negotiating table. So should we have the Taleban’s presence for a peaceful process, which ensures our peace, we then do not require a lot of military assistance,” added the ambassador.
Asked about the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Mamundzay said both countries had been very constructive and productive.
“Recently, we held the Ulema Shura, the Ulema conference in Saudi Arabia which denounced violence through the fatwa — that violence has no justification in Afghanistan, no religious justification, no Islamic justification in Afghanistan, and Taleban should put an end to it.”
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been great supporters of the Afghan people and the government. “We have very big diaspora communities in both countries, and we would want them to continue engaging in a way which would put an end to the misery of Afghan public, to the lives of Afghan public.”
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