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Pakistan turning Haqqani network into Taliban’s leader: India’s Ambassador to Kabul

India’s delay in taking a clear position on the negotiation between the Taliban and the Pakistan government might end up justifying Pakistan’s current strategy for the Taliban, The Hindu was told by Amar Sinha, Ambassador of India to Kabul.

Mr Sinha said that the recent attack on Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Quetta had shown that rivalry is intense inside Taliban and 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.

Mr. Sinha spoke to The Hindu after the Afghan media splashed his opinion questioning the reported agreement, reached in Paris between the President of Afghanistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the dialogue with the Taliban.

He clarified that the Pakistan media and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted without perusing the entire text of what he had stated. “Meeting of Heads of Governments in Paris is a positive thing. I stated that the statement of Pakistan 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 said.

He said that Afghanistan’s cooperation with Pakistan under the present set of circumstances will mean Afghanistan allowing Pakistan to determine the Taliban leadership which should not happen as the 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” Mr Sinha told The Hindu from Kabul. He pointed out that Pakistan is trying to convince Afghanistan to come along to a bad deal with Taliban.

He warned that under the present arrangement with the Taliban, even the Haqqani Network will be party to the package being discussed between the Taliban and Pakistan. “How will the Haqqani network play a key role in future without being stricken off the terror list of various countries?” asked Mr. Sinha.

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.

Mr. Sinha said that Afghans perceive India as a shining part of South Asia and they expect India to speak forcefully on issues of regional interest. He said that 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”. (The Hindu)

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