Kabul: In a rare comment, the Taliban on Sunday praised India for resisting US calls for greater involvement in Afghanistan.
According to a news agency, the Taliban, that was ousted from power in 2001, vowed not to let Afghanistan be used as a base against another country. Notably, India fears that Taliban’s return in Kabul would strengthen Pakistan-based anti-India militants.
Commenting on Leon Panetta’s appeal to India to take a more active role in Afghanistan, the hardline Islamist group said the US Defence Secretary had failed.
"He spent three days in India to transfer the heavy burden to their shoulders, to find an exit, and to flee from Afghanistan," the group said on its English website.
"Some reliable media sources said that the Indian authorities did not pay heed to (US) demands and showed their reservations, because the Indians know or they should know that the Americans are grinding their own axe."
India is providing more than USD 2 billion in assistance to projects ranging from the construction of highways to the building of the Afghan Parliament.
India, however, has refrained from contributing towards strengthening Afghan security.
"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," the Taliban said.
"They are aware of the Afghan aspirations, creeds and love for freedom. It is totally illogical they should plunge their nation into a calamity just for the American pleasure."
"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," the statement said.
During the Afghan civil war, India extended its support to the Northern Alliance against Taliban but was pushed out of Afghanistan after the militant group took over in 1996.
Taliban linked militant groups, especially the dreaded
Haqqani Network, repeatedly attacked Indian interests.
In one of such deadliest attacks, 58 people were killed and 141 wounded when Indian embassy was bombed in Kabul in 2008.
In the statement, Taliban said they want to have cordial relations on the basis of sovereignty, equality, mutual respect and no interference in each other`s internal affairs.
The group said the solution of the Afghan issue lies in the withdrawal of the external forces and to leave the sovereignty of Afghanistan for Afghans themselves.
(With Agency inputs)