Afghan soil cannot be used against another country: Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen made the remarks in an interview with Pakistan’s Hum News Channel late Monday, the group’s first leader since taking office in Kabul on Sunday.
A spokesman for the group said the Taliban would not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against any other country but would welcome the completion of its reconstruction and infrastructure projects in the country.
After the Ashraf Ghani government came to power in Kabul on Sunday after the fall, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen made the first official remarks to the group’s leader in an interview with Pakistan’s Hum News Channel on Monday night.
India has launched communication channels with some Taliban leaders and groups over the past few months, but New Delhi has not yet called for any recognition regarding the new distribution in Kabul. On Tuesday, India withdrew its ambassador and diplomatic staff from Afghanistan, reflecting rumors about Taliban assurances for the safety of foreign missions in Kabul and their personnel.
When asked about the Taliban’s views on India, Suhail Shaheen said in Urdu: “We have said that we will not allow any country or group to use Afghan soil against anyone. It is clear.”
Suhail Shaheen, who was responsible for the group’s interaction with foreign media, added: “Second, [India] has done a number of reconstruction and infrastructure projects, and if they want, they can complete unfinished projects because they are for the people.”
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He added: “But if anyone wants to use Afghan soil for their own purposes or for their military goals or for their opponents – our policy does not allow anyone.”
India has recently withdrawn all experts working on hundreds of development projects in 34 provinces in Afghanistan. India is implementing several small community development projects to build facilities such as schools and health centers, in addition to major infrastructure projects such as the construction of a parliament building in Kabul and the Salma Dam. With a total pledge of $ 3 billion, India is also the largest regional donor in Afghanistan.
The State Department recently clarified that India has no role to play in the completion of projects and that it is not the responsibility of the Afghan people to protect them.
In response to another question on whether the Taliban will ensure that no Indian presence in Afghanistan is used against Pakistan, Suhail Shaheen said: “[India] has unfinished projects in Afghanistan, such as roads and dams, which they must complete. But as I said, [Afghan soil] against any other country.” We do not allow anyone to use it. This is our clear policy. “
There has been no immediate response from Indian authorities to Suhail Shaheen’s comments.