India softens stand on Taliban in UN

On Friday, India’s permanent representative to the UN in New York Hardeep Puri endorsed two resolutions at a meeting of the UN Security Council (Resolution Nos. 1988 and 1989), paving the way for their unanimous adoption.

The resolutions were sponsored by the US, France, the UK, Germany and Portugal. While separating Taliban from al-Qaeda, one of the resolutions sets up a separate regime and flexible list for listing and de-listing Taliban leaders for enforcing the sanctions regime.

This resolution makes it easy to remove individual leaders listed as terrorists from the sanctions regime.  As a statement from the US State Department said, separating Taliban from al-Qaeda “is a tangible sign of support by the international community for Afghan reconciliation effort…”

Soon after the adoption of the two resolutions, Puri told the Council in a statement that India supported the consensual adoption of the resolutions “to strengthen the international community’s resolve in countering terrorism.”

Yet, he said that “a syndicate of terrorism, with intricate interconnections, comprising al- Qaeda, elements of the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other terrorist groups” continued to operate in Afghanistan and outside its borders. He hoped that the new resolutions would be implemented by the UN in a fair and transparent manner.

The two resolutions drastically amended an original October 1999 Council resolution that established a sanctions regime against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, requiring all UN member countries to enforce fr­eeze on their assets, tr­avel/transit ban on their leaders and sale and supply of weapons etc.

The decoupling may stre­ngthen US-supported efforts from the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul to reach out to Taliban leaders to win them over towards an Afghan reconciliation. For nearly two years, the Obama Administration has been toying with a policy of reaching out to the Taliban, as part of its strategy for military exit from the country.

Apprehensive that the Taliban continued to be Pakistan’s strong political constituency in Afghanistan, New Delhi has been expressing strong reservations about the US move to engage the Afghan Taliban.

“There is no good Taliban or bad Taliban,” New Delhi had asserted in the past, alluding to the US move to engage what it termed “moderate” Taliban elements in Afghanistan. Signals though have been emerging of late that New Delhi could relent, apprehensive that it could be left out of US-supported Afghan reconciliation process for a political order beyond the withdrawal of the US forces for that country. Last month, when on a visit to Kabul, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Afghan law-makers that India would support any Afghan-initiated process for political reconciliation in the country.


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