Indian envoy claims Pakistan wants to hand over Taliban leadership to Haqqani network


Indian Ambassador to Kabul Amar Sinha has urged India to intervene in Taliban peace talks, claiming Pakistan is giving the group’s leadership to the Haqqani network.

Rivalries within the militant group are intense given the recent attack on Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in Quetta, Sinha said while speaking to The Hindu.

“India should intervene as Pakistan seems to be negotiating with only one faction of Taliban apart from giving leadership space to the Haqqani network, which is on the verge of getting international recognition as the de facto Taliban, due to Pakistan’s initiative,” the paper further said quoting the ambassador.

Sinha warned that under the present arrangement with the Taliban, the Haqqani Network will be party to the talks. “How will the Haqqani network play a key role in future without being stricken off the terror list of various countries?” he questioned.

The consequence of Pakistan’s peace negotiation with the Taliban, he said, will be that the international community will be presented with a “fait accompli” of dealing with the Haqqani network as the legitimate Taliban leadership.

“Pakistan is trying to convince Afghanistan to come along to a bad deal with Taliban,” he alleged.

The Indian ambassador said that Afghans perceive India as a shining part of South Asia and they expect India to speak forcefully on issues of regional interest. “The Heart of Asia conference of December 7 provides a new opportunity to bring peace to Afghanistan and should be given a chance as it promises an Afghan-led peace process,” he maintained.

Sinha’s statement came following ‘misreporting’ regarding his statement on a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Paris this week.

The Indian ambassador to Kabul clarified that the Pakistani media and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted without perusing the entire text of what he had said. “Meeting of heads of governments in Paris is a positive thing. I stated that the statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Paris is positive and we will see reduction in violence if we stay on a track built by consultation,” he upheld.

Further, he said Afghanistan’s cooperation with Pakistan under the present set of circumstances will mean Kabul is allowing Islamabad to determine the Taliban leadership which should not happen as Afghanistan’s peace will have to be determined by the Afghans themselves.

“Indian media should question the charade of Mullah Omar’s death, the quick coronation of Mullah Akhtar Mansour and the hurried attempt to start talks with Taliban even before the issue of Taliban’s leadership is resolved” Sinha told The Hindu.

The peace process was called off by the Taliban in July this year following disclosure that their longtime elusive supreme leader Mullah Omar had died over two years ago. The confirmation came barely days before Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives were to hold a second round of talks. The first rare face-to-face meeting between the two sides was held in Pakistan’s popular tourist resort of Murree in the first week of July.