The Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai had reached out to India earlier this week to request that India retain its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. The request was sent informally shortly after India evacuated 200 people, including its envoy, diplomats, security personnel, and citizens, in two military flights.
Stanekzai is seen as the number two in the Taliban’s negotiating team and third overall among leaders based in Qatar.
He conveyed that the Taliban is aware of the concerns the Indian government has about the security situation in Kabul. Stanekzai assured that India should not worry about the safety of its mission and embassy staff, reported HT.
The capital of Afghanistan has been in turmoil since the Taliban takeover on Sunday. The US hasn't completed the evacuation of its military troops and allies. Afghan citizens have camped around the airport in the hopes of escaping the country.
An assessment done by the Indian and Afghanistan diplomats hinted that the request from the Taliban could not be taken at face value. The evacuation went ahead as planned on Tuesday as well. People familiar with the situation told Hindustan Times that the message took Indian officials, both in New Delhi and Kabul, by surprise.
India decided to evacuate the diplomats after intelligence received reports of certain “rogue elements” - members of LeT and Haqqani Network, both Pakistan-based terror groups, had entered Kabul with Taliban fighters.
Stanekzai specifically addressed these reports and said that fighters from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) were in Kabul and deployed at check posts set up by the Taliban on the route to the airport. He added that the check posts are firmly in the hands of the Taliban.
The request was seen as a sign of the Taliban's efforts to reach out to the international community. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen declared on Twitter that they will not create any hindrance in the functioning of embassies and consulates. He assured that the group will not create problems for diplomats, embassies, consulates, and charitable workers, whether they are international or national. He added that a secure environment will be provided to them.