India should be ‘open-minded’ about dealing with the Taliban: Yashwant Sinha
Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday said India should be "open-minded" about dealing with the Taliban and suggested that it should open its embassy in Kabul and send back the ambassador.
Noting that the people of Afghanistan have great love for India while Pakistan is not popular among them, Sinha told PTI in an interview that the Indian government should not conclude that the Taliban will place itself "in Pakistan's lap" as every country furthers its own interests.
As a big country, India should approach the issues of the Taliban with a degree of confidence and should not indulge in a "widow's wail" as if Pakistan has taken over Afghanistan or has an advantage over it, he added.
That the Taliban now controls most of Afghanistan is a reality, Sinha said, adding that India should adopt "wait and watch" mode and be in no hurry either to recognise or to dismiss its regime.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key Afghan towns and cities in the country following the withdrawal of the US forces from the country. Kabul also fell to the Taliban on Sunday after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left the country for an unknown destination.
"It appears on the face of it that the Taliban of 2021 is not the same Taliban of 2001. There appears to be some difference. They are making mature statements. That is something we have to take note of," Sinha said.
"I am not saying that take their statements at face value but I will also suggest that they should not be dismissed off-hand because of their past behaviour. We have to look at present and future," he added.
Sinha was the foreign minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but became a critic of the Modi government and quit the BJP. He is currently vice president in the Trinamool Congress.
He said India should have waited instead of immediately closing its embassy and evacuating its people after the extremist Islamist organisation captured Kabul.
India on Tuesday rushed back home its ambassador Rudrendra Tandon and staff from the embassy in Kabul in a military transport aircraft following escalating tension, fear and uncertainty gripping the Afghan capital after the Taliban insurgents seized the Afghan capital on Sunday.
This policy needs to have a second look, Sinha said, noting that the Taliban is holding talks with former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, who took office after the US-led forces had toppled the previous Taliban regime after the 9/11 terror attack, and its former CEO Abdullah Abdullah.
It could not have been imagined earlier, Sinha said.
He added, "India should immediately open its embassy in Kabul and send back the ambassador."
"We must remember that the people of Afghanistan have great love for India. Pakistan is not popular with the people of Afghanistan, India is. That we must remember. Our development works have also been appreciated," he said.
Organisations dubbed as terror groups have occupied the highest offices in the past and have changed, he noted, saying that India should wait to see how the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan pans out.
To dismiss always is to turn your face from reality, he said.