Afghan factions divided over Jammu & Kashmir
A Taliban spokesman has said the group reserves the right to speak out in support of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, remarks that run counter to senior Taliban leader Anas Haqqani's contention that the organisation would not interfere in Kashmir.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen was quoted by BBC Urdu, in a report published online on Thursday, as saying that the group does not have a policy of taking up arms against any country. In this context, he referred to the terms of the agreement signed by Taliban and the US in February 2020.
However, Shaheen said that the Taliban, as Muslims, have the right to raise their voice for Muslims in Kashmir, India or any other country. "We will raise our voice and say that Muslims are your own people, your own citizens. They are entitled to equal rights under your laws," he was quoted as saying.
Shaheen's remarks are completely contrary to the stance taken by Haqqani Network leader Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban's 14-member negotiating team, in an interview aired by News18 channel on Wednesday. Haqqani had said in the interview that Kashmir was not an issue for Afghanistan. "We have a clear policy that when something is not an issue for our country, we cannot interfere in another country," he had said.
He had also described reports about the Haqqani Network supporting Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which are active in Kashmir, as "propaganda".
There was no immediate response from Indian officials to Shaheen's remarks. As reported by Hindustan Times, Haqqani has been engaged in an outreach towards India, along with senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai, who is expected to be given a senior position in the government to be formed by the Taliban.