False - June 9, 2021

Taliban, India diplomatic contact an unproven claim

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Taliban reject having established initial contact with Indian government as some reports claim and other relevant officials have not yet spoken in this regard as well.

Claim: Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday that India opened channels with Afghan Taliban factions and leaders. The Indian outreach, according to the report, is largely led by security officials and limited to Taliban factions and leaders that are perceived as being “nationalist” or outside the sphere of influence of Pakistan and Iran.

Afghan media outlets Tolo News and Hashat-e-Subh newspaper also published the report.

Hindustan Times reads India has for the first time opened channels of communication with Afghan Taliban factions and leaders, including Mullah Baradar, against the backdrop of the rapid drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan, people with knowledge of the development have said.

The move marks a significant shift in New Delhi’s long-term policy of not engaging with the Afghan Taliban in any way and comes at a time when key world powers are veering around to the position that the Taliban will play some part in any future dispensation in Kabul. The outreach has been underway for some months, though it continues to be exploratory in nature

Another source told New York Times regarding Hindustan Times report: “A huge shift is imminent; some believe that keeping relationship with the Taliban will be better.”

The source said that India contact has not established with Haqqani Network and Quetta Shura, adding that the two groups are Pakistan’s puppets.

Fact Check:

Indian officials have not spoken about Hindustan Times report.

Pajhwok shared the development with Indian Embassy in Kabul, Indian Foreign Ministry and Afghanistan’s Embassy in New Delhi though Whatsapp but no response was received.

But Taliban Spokesperson in Qatar Dr. Naeem said these reports were baseless and untrue. He said: “This is ambiguous and baseless statement. Such news with no reality often published in the media.”

Another Taliban Media Person Suhail Shaheen said: “I read this report but I cannot approve it.”

Outcome: Some Indian and Afghan media reported that Indian has established contract with Taliban’s Qatar Office Head Mullah Beradar and other Taliban leaders, but the Taliban rejected these reports and other relevant officials have not spoken in this regard.

Verdict: Unproven claim

Ahmad Sohaib Hasrat

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