India wary of Haqqani role in US-Taliban talks

Published: 21st June 2013 08:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st June 2013 08:00 AM   |  A+A-

Jalaludin Haqqani-AP

With the perpetrators of attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul participating in the Taliban’s peace talks with the US, India would be looking for answers on the Haqqani network’s role in the controversial initiative, during the visit next week of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The opening of a Taliban office in Doha on Tuesday was supposed to herald a new round of reconciliation talks which, however, seem to have derailed for now, with Afghanistan accusing the US of “betrayal”.

But the setback may only be temporary as the US appears keen on reaching a settlement with the Talbian at any cost before thousands of its troops start withdrawing from the country in less than a year. These developments have sounded alarm bells in New Delhi, especially over the role of Pakistan and its security agencies, who consider the Haqqani network as a strategic asset.

Before the inauguration of the Doha office, White House officials had told the media that the Haqqanis were an “especially dangerous element” of Taliban.

“We don’t know the exact makeup of the Taliban delegation, but we believe that it broadly represents, as authorised by (Taliban chief) Mullah Omar, the entire movement to include the Haqqanis,” he said.

Sources indicated that India is expected to seek answers from the visiting US Secretary of State, given the impression that Washington has ignored Indian concerns by giving legitimacy to the Haqqanis. On a three-day visit, Kerry will arrive in New Delhi on Sunday and co-chair the fourth Indo-US Strategic Dialogue. Meanwhile, India will find it difficult to reconcile its position on an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” peace process, especially since President Hamid Karzai has said the Afghan High Peace Council will not talk to the Taliban till the process was “Afghanised”.

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