China will be the Taliban’s “main partner” and help rebuild Afghanistan, according to a spokesperson for the group.
“China will be our main partner and represents a great opportunity for us because it is ready to invest in our country and support reconstruction efforts,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in an interview published by Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday.
He said the Taliban value China’s Belt and Road Initiative as the project will revive the ancient Silk Road.
He said China will also help Afghanistan fully utilise its rich copper resources and give the country a path into global markets.
The Taliban also view Russia as an important partner in the region and will maintain good relations with Moscow, he added.
Speaking about the Kabul airport, Mujahid said the facility is fully under Taliban control but has been seriously damaged.
Qatar and Turkey are leading efforts to resume operations at the airport, he told the Italian publication.
“The airport should be clean within the next three days and will be rebuilt in a short time. I hope it will be operational again in September,” he said.
On relations with Italy, Mujahid said the Taliban hope Italy will recognize their government and reopen its embassy in Kabul.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15, forcing President Ashraf Ghani and other top officials to flee the country.
The group has been working to form a government and an announcement is expected on Friday.
Taliban have right to speak out in favor of Kashmir
A Taliban spokesperson told the BBC that the group had a right to speak out in favour of Muslims in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
In a zoom interview with the BBC, Sohail Shaheen recalled the terms of the Doha agreement with the United States, saying they had no policy of conducting armed operations against any country.
Speaking in Doha, Shaheen said that as a Muslim, it was his right to speak out for Muslims living in Kashmir, India and any other country.
According to him, "We will raise our voice and say that Muslims are your own people, your own citizen. They are entitled to equal rights under your law”.
The eyes of the world are on India. Critics say India has seen an increase in hate crimes against Muslims since 2014 under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the BJP and its allies deny the allegations.
The controversial law granting citizenship to non-Muslim refugees who have arrived illegally from three neighboring countries has also been seen as a target for Muslims.
Many citizens are angry at the way India has ended the special status of Kashmir under its administration and the manner in which this decision has been implemented.
Jammu and Kashmir has been a source of contention between India and Pakistan for decades.
Read Taliban want China to play ‘huge role’ in rebuilding Afghanistan
The withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan and then the Taliban's control over Afghanistan, which is considered close to Pakistan, has raised fears in many quarters in India that groups within the Taliban are now turning to anti-India groups inside Pakistan.
You can also target places like Jammu and Kashmir
Footage from a viral TV debate quoted a leader of Pakistan's ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party as saying, "The Taliban have said that Ho is with us and they will help us (liberate) Kashmir.”
Hard times for India?
India has been supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance since 2001, when US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Kabul.
Twenty years after the war, the rule of the Pakistan-backed Taliban is being seen as a major setback for India. India had close ties with the government of then-President Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan.
India has poured billions of rupees into various development schemes in Afghanistan to improve its image. But with the Taliban coming to power, there is a fear in India that all this will be lost.
During its first official contact with the Taliban on August 31, India conveyed its concerns to Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban's political affairs chief in Doha.
According to a Foreign Ministry statement, during the meeting, India told the Taliban that Afghanistan's territory should not be used for anti-India activities or terrorist activities under any circumstances.
Negotiations are not easy for India
Countries such as the United States, Russia and China are openly negotiating with the Taliban. However, dealing with the armed group will not be easy for the Indian authorities.
The Carnegie India Report on India's Strategy for Afghanistan after the US Withdrawal states that the so-called Haqqani network within the Taliban, which is considered the best and most trained group, has seized Indian assets, including the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
According to the report, due to the close ties between Pakistan and the Haqqani network leaders, there is a strong possibility that this “compromised” Haqqani group will now stick to its anti-India agenda.
However, Shaheen said that the propaganda against the Haqqanis was based on mere claims.
"The Haqqanis are not a group," he said. They are part of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. That is the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The (alleged) role of the Taliban in the hijacking of a passenger plane from Kathmandu to Delhi in India is also fresh in the minds of the people of India. There were 180 people on board.
The plane went to Kandahar, where at the request of the hijackers, three militants were released from Indian custody in exchange for passengers.
According to the Carnegie India Report, after the hijacking of an Indian airliner in 1999, it was the group (Taliban) that brought the released terrorists safely to Pakistan.
Shaheen claims that the Taliban did not play a role in the hijacking and that the Indian government should be grateful for the help it provided.
According to Shaheen, India requested “us” that there was a shortage of fuel on the plane and after that we provided assistance for the release of the stranded passengers.
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