Haqqani Network Leader Says Group Won’t Interfere in Kashmir

Foreign Affairs

New Delhi: As the Taliban continues to decide on the leadership issue in Kabul since taking over the country, top Taliban leader, who is one of the front-runners in the yet-to-be-formed Taliban regime in Afghanistan, also clarified their stand on Kashmir.

The scion of Afghanistan’s feared Haqqani network has called for an amicable relationship with India and pledged not to interfere in the Kashmir issue. In an interview, Anas Haqqani, 28, rejected accusations of terrorism against the guerrilla group controlled by his family and promised to provide complete security to all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

“Kashmir is not part of our jurisdiction and interference is against the policy,” Haqqani said. “How can we go against our policy? This is clear: we will not interfere.” This is the latest conciliatory signal from the new regime in Afghanistan, who appear keen to build friendly ties with India, which has poured money into rebuilding Afghan infrastructure.

Haqqani described  the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, as a  “big day for us.” Elaborating further, Haqqani said “we struggled twenty years for this blessing. Today it’s our day of victory and the day of our independence. Everyone is happy and I’m hopeful that more beautiful days will come in future.”

On how he viewed the world and support to the Taliban, he said, “As per policy, we don’t interfere in matters of others and we expect others also not to interfere in ours. We want all matters to be sorted amicably. Our doors are open for everyone. We want to have a good relationship with the rest of the world.”

On the report that the Haqqani network is closely associated with ISI and the Pakistan Army and since it is now a part of the Afghanistan government, what will be its association with them? His answer was “lots of negative propaganda about us and it’s all wrong. The Haqqani Network is nothing. We are working for everyone. The media worldwide and especially in India is spreading negative propaganda about us. This is spoiling the atmosphere. No Pakistani weapon was ever used in the war. These allegations are wrong and baseless.”

Responding to the question on the network’s relationship with India, Haqqani said, “We want a good relationship with India. We don’t want anyone to think wrong about us. India has helped our enemy for twenty years but we are ready to forget everything and take the relationship forward.”

To a question that Pakistan is very close to Haqqanis and it is regularly interfering in Kashmir. Will it also interfere in Kashmir to support Pakistan? Haqqani’s reply seemed categorical “Kashmir is not part of our jurisdiction and interference is against policy. How can we go against our policy? It is clear we will not interfere.”

To a question that Haqqani  will not interfere in the Kashmir matter? And Haqqani will not support JeM and LeT in the Kashmir matter? he said “we have clarified this multiple times and I’m saying it again – This is just propaganda.”

In response to a the question that all the development work done by India in Afghanistan is pending. In case India wants to come and complete those projects, will it be allowed. “We will clarify all our policies in the days to come. We want all help for the people of Afghanistan. We want not only India but the rest of the world to come and support us,” he said.

Regarding the safety of Indians  stranded in Afghanistan of whom many are Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, he assured that “everyone is safe in Afghanistan. There was some panic and fear initially, but now things have settled and people are happy. Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are like any other communities of Afghanistan and they would live happily.

On the Haqqani group being blamed by U.S. for 2020 Kabul gurudwara attack, he said it was “all propaganda by our enemies and the media. This is false and wrong. We have never done that.”

Asked about his role in the Taliban having been sentenced to death in 2016 but released in prisoner exchange, he said  “I don’t know my role in the Taliban. Time will tell and decide the role for us. I’m a Muslim and I take things as they come. Our aim was to get freedom and we got that. We don’t bother about our role and power in the future. We will follow our elders and leaders.”

Asked about guarantee  to  India about the safety of Indians and assets they have built? he said “after taking over Afghanistan, we have proved that we will take everyone along. There is propaganda going on, but we want to assure all that they would be living with peace and happiness in Afghanistan.”

Asked about apprehension on the plight of women in the country as they are living in fear and are saying their freedom is over so what assurance about their safety, he replied “this will be proved (wrong) in days to come. We will declare all policies for men and women, and everything will be transparent.”

On the acceptance of the Durand Line as the permanent border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Haqqani said “I can’t confirm anything right now. Our elders will decide and declare this.”

On the emerging scenario  about government formation and when can a government be expected in Kabul, he said “the major problem is over now. America is gone. The wait is over and very soon, we will have good news about government formation.” However, he did not want to discuss anything publicly about the kind of government in Kabul saying  “I don’t know anything about this.”

On the message to the world by the Taliban, he said “the world knows that we are committed individuals, and we are against propaganda. People, who want to fight in Afghanistan, have been exposed. We want good relationships with everyone in the world. But we want the rest of the world to not interfere in our matters and we will also not interfere in their matters.”