Indian delegation made ‘quiet visit’ to Qatar to meet Taliban: Qatar govt official

New Delhi: An Indian delegation made a quiet visit to Qatar to engage in talks with the Taliban, a senior Qatari official confirmed this week. This is one of the first official confirmations that the Indian government engaged with the Taliban directly.

Though there is no confirmation from the Indian side so far, Qatar’s special envoy for counterterrorism and mediation of conflict resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani made this revelation in a webinar. He said that the Taliban is seen as a “key component” in any future government in Afghanistan by India.

“I understand that there has been a quiet visit by Indian officials from India to speak with the Taliban. Why? Because not everyone believes that Taliban will dominate and take over, but because the Taliban is a key component of future Afghanistan. So, I see the reason for having a dialogue or talks and reaching out to all parties in Afghanistan,” Al Qahtani stated.

Further, noting that Afghanistan “should not become a place for a proxy among any countries”, he said it was in the interest of both India and Pakistan to have a more stable Afghanistan.

“This is a golden opportunity for all of them to get back to talks. Nobody including Qatar is going to recognise any group that is going to take a country by force,” Qahtani added.

Al Qahtani’s comment weeks after MEA S Jaishankar stopped over in Doha to meet with the Qatari leadership twice in the last two weeks. Earlier this month, Hindustan Times reported a “huge shift” in India’s policy by attempting to conduct outreach with the Taliban.