India and Pakistan should not use Afghanistan in their internal fight, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai — tipped to be the war-torn nation’s foreign minister — has told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview, reiterating that the Taliban want good relations with all their neighbours.
Asked about fears that Taliban may be hostile towards India or team up with Pakistan to target the country, Stanikzai said what comes up in the media is “often wrong”. “There is no such statement or indication from our side. We want good relations with all our neighbouring countries,” he said.
The Taliban leader added that he was mindful of the long political and geographical dispute between India and Pakistan but they hoped Afghanistan would not be used in their “internal fight”.
“We hope they do not use Afghanistan in their internal fight; they have a long border, they can fight amongst themselves on the border. They should not use Afghanistan for this and we will not let any country use our land for this,” he said.
In an earlier outreach to India, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen had said Taliban never had issues with India’s projects in Afghanistan but was opposing their support to the “puppet” government of Ashraf Ghani.
Responding to a question on India’s investments in Afghanistan over the past 20 years — from roads, dams to even the parliament building — and if the hardliners had stopped bilateral trade, Shaheen said the projects for the benefit of Afghans must be completed if under construction.
“About their (India’s) projects which are good for the people of Afghanistan and which contribute to the welfare of people of Afghanistan, if they are incomplete then they can complete it. What we were opposing was their siding with the former government.
“What we have wanted for the last 20 years is that countries, including India, should have a relation with the people of Afghanistan. And they should also acknowledge the intention of the people of Afghanistan for the liberation of the country. It was our point and our position and we have always said that no one should not side with that puppet government. They should support the people of Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said.