26 April: A new book on the Taliban claims that Pakistan’s former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa played a key role in facilitating the Taliban’s request to India to resume diplomatic ties with Afghanistan.
The book, titled The Return of the Taliban, is authored by Hassan Abbas, a professor of international relations at the National Defence University in Washington.
It will be released in the US later this week. According to the book, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi had a detailed meeting with Gen Bajwa before asking India to send back its diplomats and technical staff to Kabul.
The book says that Pakistan acted this way because it hoped that India’s return to Afghanistan might open up prospects of some aid for the Taliban. The book also says that India has strategic interests in Afghanistan and is reassessing its position and moving towards a balancing act in its effort to engage with the Taliban and help stabilise Afghanistan.
The book cites the Taliban’s desire for international legitimacy and recognition as well as external investments to reconstruct and revive the country as the main reasons for their eagerness to mend ties with India.
The book also narrates some anecdotes to demonstrate Gen Bajwa’s influence in Afghanistan, such as his approval of the appointment of Taliban Finance Minister Hidayatullah Badri, who had suffered at the hands of the Pakistani security apparatus following 9/11.
The book also discusses former ISI chief Faiz Hamid’s visit to Kabul soon after the Taliban takeover, claiming that he ignored the Foreign Office’s advice to stay at the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and was photographed sipping tea in a hotel, which went viral on social media.
The book is based on interviews with Taliban leaders, Afghan politicians, regional experts and diplomats.
It aims to reveal “the pivotal decisions leading to the Taliban’s seizure of power” and describe “how as rulers they struggle to reconcile pressures for transition with their rigid ideology”, according to Marvin G. Weinbaum, a senior scholar of South Asian affairs in Washington.