Zabiullah talk, Taliban walk

The Taliban’s actions signal a different message from their words

Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, has been dressed up to sound like a realist. “It’s possible for the Taliban and India to reconcile with each other” he told his interviewer, “(our) complaint is that India backed the (Northern Alliance) and is now supporting the Karzai government.” He’d like you to believe that it’s all a misunderstanding because “unlike the Lashkar which is focused on Jammu and Kashmir, the Afghan Taliban concentrate on Afghanistan. (Taliban) have never taken part in any attack in India, nor do we attack anyone at Pakistan’s behest.”

Given that everyone thinks it is that stage of the game where they should be seen talking to their adversaries, Mr Mujahid can be forgiven for self-serving lapses of memory. But Mullah Omar’s Taliban are joined at the hip with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). The HuM and its derivative organisations have been engaged in fighting Pakistan’s proxy war against India since the early 1990s. (Speaking of which, whatever happened to Fazlur Rehman Khalil?) When President Clinton ordered missile strikes on training camps in Afghanistan on August 20, 1998, among those killed were members of not only the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen but also the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen. [See B Raman’s 1998 assessment] So Mr Mujahid is not technically not lying. He’s just taking enormous liberties with the truth.

And we are not even talking about the Taliban’s role in the IC-814 episode. As if giving free passage to terrorist hijackers somehow absolves the Mullah Omar of complicity in the affair.

India must reach out to various groups and factions in Afghanistan. But a lot of options will have to be exhausted, and then some, before trying to sup with Mullah Omar’s outfit. If the Taliban were so keen to engage India, attacking Indian officials in Kabul would be exactly the opposite of what they would do. There’s not only a big gulf between history and Mr Mujahid’s telling of it. There is a huge one between his words and the Taliban’s deeds. Believing in the Taliban’s bonafides is not the stuff of imaginative diplomacy. It is a recipe for delusional diplomacy.

2 thoughts on “Zabiullah talk, Taliban walk”

  1. A good strategy is to engage Taliban commanders and create disaffection between Pak Army and Afghan Taliban. With the help of Afghan intelligence, we should help as much Afghan Taliban commanders as possible to link them up with Al-Qaeda and Pakistan Taliban(TTP). Thus they become natural target of Pak Army and both can fight each other to death. Our sole card now is to link-up with Pakistani Taliban through proxies or charities in middile-east and help revive them..and payback Pak Army for its “karachi project” & other misadventures.

  2. India would be utterly foolish to believe the statement by the Taliban that they are not opposed to India. At the end of they day, they are fanatics who want to establish islamic rule all over the world. Pakistan created the Taliban and continues to wield enourmous influence over them. In such a scenario, why would Pakistan even so much as countenance the Taliban being reconciled with India ? After all, isnt the pursuit of ‘strategic depth’ the reason why Pakistan wants to make Afghanistan a client state again ? India should snap trade and tourism links with Pakistan with immediate effect. We must take steps to ensure that Indian goods are cheaper than Pakistani goods in any kind of market. Companies which seek to do business in Pakistan and which are operating in India should lose any concessions granted by the government. We must build more dams on the rivers which figure in the Indus Water Treaty and develop the ability to absolutely deny essential supplies of water to Pakistan if a strategic need to do so arises. We must actively and unapologetically aid nationalist aspirations in Balochistan and Sindh. A stable and united Pakistan will never let Indian develop in peace. As Chanakya said, if you want peace, you must be prepared for war.

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