Notwithstanding India's strong opposition to the Taliban, the religious extremist group Sunday praised New Delhi for resisting the U.S. call for greater involvement in Afghanistan.
The Taliban termed India a "significant country" in the region, adding that New Delhi was aware of "Afghans' aspirations and love for freedom."
"No doubt that India is a significant country in the region, but is also worth mentioning that they have full information about Afghanistan because they know each other very well in the long history. They are aware of the Afghans' aspirations, creeds and love for freedom. It is totally illogical they should plunge their nation into a calamity just for the American pleasure," the Taliban said in a statement published on its website.
The soft take on India by the Taliban, who share close ties with Indian rival Pakistan, is considered a signal that the militant group is treading an independent path.
During his recent visit to New Delhi, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that India was a "linchpin" in a new U.S. military strategy focused on Asia, asserting that Washington favored a more active role for India in Afghanistan after the coalition troops leave in 2014.
"I urged India's leaders to continue with additional support to Afghanistan through trade and investment, reconstruction, and help for Afghanistan's security forces," Panetta said in his speech at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses June 6.
The Taliban said Panetta had arrived "with the hope the host country will welcome their demand" but failed as the "host's answer was negative."
"The above mentioned notorious secretary arrived on 5th June to New Delhi with the hope the host country will welcome their demand to come to Afghanistan, because we have now tamed the war," the Taliban said. "But as it is said they tried to deceive even a cleverer one, because the Indian people and their authorities are observing this illicit war for the last 12 years and they are aware of the Afghan nation and their demands."
"Although full details of negotiations have not come out to the press, it seems that the host's answer was negative. The forth mentioned secretary moved empty-handed towards Kabul without gaining any success or progress in his efforts."
"He [Panetta] spent three days in India to transfer the heavy burden to their shoulders, to find an exit and to flee from Afghanistan. Some reliable media sources said that the Indian authorities did not pay heed to demands and showed their reservations, because the Indians know or they should know that the Americans are grinding their own axe. [The U.S.] has very long history and experience in changing its loyalties. [The Americans] always chase their vested interests and have never cared for others interests nor for their miseries."
The Indian government, one of Afghanistan's biggest donors, has spent about $2 billion on various development projects, according to a Reuters report. However, India's contribution to security spending in Kabul is limited to training Afghan military officers at military institutions in India.
India's intelligence experts view the Taliban's statement as a gentle reminder not to intervene in Afghanistan's affairs after the U.S. troops leave in 2014.
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