The clarification was given to The Sunday Guardian after reports emerged that a Taliban spokesperson had told the media that they would raise the ‘issue of Kashmir’.

 

New Delhi: The Taliban that have assumed power in Afghanistan, have maintained that they neither have the right nor the desire to interfere in the “Kashmir issue”. The Taliban, however, said that they would raise their voice in support of Muslims, not just those staying in India, but even in China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The clarification was shared with The Sunday Guardian by Taliban functionaries who are a part of the government forming process in Kabul. The clarification was given to The Sunday Guardian after several media reports, most prominently Pakistani media, quoting an interview given by Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen to BBC Urdu, claimed that Shaheen, in his interview, had said that the Taliban would raise the “issue of Kashmir”.

A top Taliban functionary, who is not authorized to speak to the media, told The Sunday Guardian: “Where has he said that we will raise the issue of Kashmir? What he has said is that the Taliban will speak about Muslims, irrespective of whether they are staying in India, Pakistan, China or Saudi Arabia.”

“Shaheen has clearly said that Muslims are India’s own citizens and they have the same rights as any other Indian citizen. He has not spoken a word on the Kashmir conflict involving India-Pakistan. Our stand on this issue is clear—we do not have anything to do with it,” the functionary said. According to him, the media in Pakistan and in India were using “neutral statements” made by Taliban leaders to suit their respective narratives.

“We do not have either the desire or the authority to interfere in Kashmir. This misuse of our soil and our  words, in the fight between India and Pakistan, should stop. We have communicated this very clearly and without any ambiguity to the press coordinator and other officials at the Pakistani embassy in Kabul. We don’t want our interest and development to be sandwiched between India-Pakistan rivalries,” he emphasized.

Earlier this week, one of the most prominent voices among the Taliban leadership, Anas Haqqani, had stated that Kashmir was not under Taliban’s “jurisdiction” and they did not have any desire to interfere in the region. The Sunday Guardian reached out to Shaheen for his response on the developments, but it was not received until the time this report went to the press.