Indian officials have met and held discussions with the Taliban representatives in Doha ahead of complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Qatar’s special envoy for mediation Majed Al Qahtani confirmed earlier this week.
While it was already known that New Delhi has communicated with the militia in the past, this is the first time a senior Qatari official has confirmed that a direct meeting has taken place between the two sides, according to Indian media reports.
The news comes just days after India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made quick stopovers in Doha on June 9 and June 15 when he met senior Qatari officials and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy on Afghanistan.
“India has to be realistic. It has to come to terms with the reality that Taliban have an upper hand and they might actually come to power. Obviously New Delhi would want to protect its investments,” Ajit Singh, a New Delhi-based security analyst, told TRT World.
Doha has for years hosted the Taliban’s political office and facilitated negotiations with the Americans and Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani.
India’s arch rival Pakistan, one of the three countries to recognise Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan, has also played an integral role in the Afghan peace process.
India has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan as it seeks to strengthen its role in the war-torn country.
It remains unclear how significant were the discussions between the Taliban and Indian officials or if any senior officials participated.
“I understand that there has been a quiet visit by Indian officials to speak to the Taliban,” Qahtani said during an online conference on Monday, according to The Hindu.