Taliban Has Reached Out To India 24 Times
THE WEEK|May 09, 2021
Mohammed Umer Daudzai has been entrusted with the task of attempting political reconciliation with its eastern neighbour. In the past, he has served as President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy for regional consensus-building on peace and as the head of the High Peace Council secretariat.
Mandira Nayar

When IC-814 hijack happened in December 1999, Daudzai was working with the United Nations Development Programme and spent 10 days on the Kandahar tarmac with Indian negotiators. Speaking to THE WEEK from his office in Kabul, Daudzai said it was “critically important” for India to engage with the Taliban. Edited excerpts from the interview:

Q/ What would be your main challenges after the US withdrawal?

A/ Can we keep the state and its vital institutions together after the withdrawal? That will be our biggest challenge. If we manage to keep our key institutions together, we can manage the rest.

Q/ You have been made special envoy to Pakistan to try and bring the Taliban to the table. You were assigned this task earlier by former president Hamid Karzai as well. How is it different this time?

A/ Back in 2011, Kabul was much stronger and much more coherent. The institutions were growing and the international support was unwavering. US-Pakistan relations were also much worse. But now I see for the first time that the Pakistani army and the government are on the same page. Back then, we were dealing with two states.

I also feel that Pakistan is concerned about the full-fledged return of the Taliban. There is fear about the domino effect it will have on Pakistan. Back then, there was no Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, there was no other terrorist group that was hurting Pakistan, too. Now they are there. Pakistan is worried about a Taliban regime in Kabul. There will be natural resistance against the Taliban in many parts of the country. Also, anti-Pakistani terrorist groups may take shelter in empty spaces in Afghanistan and may try and hurt Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region.

The Taliban is no longer as loyal to Pakistan as it used to be. It is expanding its relationship with Russia, Iran and the Arab countries. We have to look at the similarities between now and 2011 and also at the differences. Those differences are the positive messages for us. We have to work on them.

Q/ You are saying there is a realisation in Pakistan that if the Taliban takes over Kabul, it might hurt Pakistan.

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