New Delhi: Afghanistan has seen a fresh spell of violence erupt in the last few days, in the aftermath of the withdrawal of US-NATO troops from the country. Intense fighting has been reported from most parts of the country between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban fighters. Amid all the action in Afghanistan, the Taliban leadership has already begun reaching out to other countries for assistance in various sectors. Times Now spoke exclusively to Taliban Spokesperson and Member of Negotiations Team, Suhail Shaheen, over the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and the chances of potential talks between the Taliban leadership and the Indian government officials.

Hinting at an unwillingness to engage in talks with India, 'under current circumstances', Shaheen said that India should not take sides in the Afghan conflict.

"Indian government should remain impartial in the fighting which is ongoing in Afghanistan. They should not provide weapons to the Kabul administration. We are the people of Afghanistan and they are using these weapons against us. There are a lot of civilian casualties because of the bombardment and airstrikes and drone attacks," he said.

Shaheen further added, "In this situation, when India is siding with the Kabul administration, in terms of giving them weapons and assisting them financially against the people of Afghanistan. It has made any interaction between the two sides difficult. If that step is taken, and India maintains neutrality and impartiality in Afghanistan, It would be a great step towards future talks."

Describing the situation on ground in Afghanistan, Shaheen said that about 195-200 districts across Afghanistan have come under Taliban control 'voluntarily'.

"The ground situation in Afghanistan is that about 195-200 districts all over the country have come in the administration of Taliban. These districts have come under our control voluntarily. All the security forces of the Kabul administration stationed there joined our ranks and files on basis of their own concept. There is less violence but more victories for the Taliban (IEA)," he said.

When asked if it was always the intention of the Taliban leadership to take over the Afghan territory by force once the US-NATO troops leave from Afghanistan, Shaheen said, "No truth to there being a pre-formulated plan to take over the Afghan territory by force. Last Eid, we announced a 3-day unilateral ceasefire. But the Kabul administration thought it was because of our weakness. So they launched a huge offensive against our people in 3 provinces. When we reacted to their offensive, they were not able to defend their position, but rather started withdrawing from their military posts. That was the beginning of our taking districts all over the country."

He further went on to claim that the Afghan government has been making an effort to distort the ground reality in Afghanistan.

"Four months ago we proposed a reduction in violence. It was rejected by the Kabul administration. We want a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue. It is the only way to have an Afghan inclusive government in place, in the country that would bring about permanent peace and stability. A military takeover is not the only option, it is also not a good option in our view. We believe in a peaceful solution and for that reason, our team continues negotiation with the other side, in Doha. We are trying to reach a negotiated solution as soon as possible," Shaheen said.

When asked about the death of Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, and the unconfirmed reports about his body being mutilated allegedly by Taliban fighters, Shaheen said, "Siddiqui had embedded with the Kabul security forces. It was not coordinated with us. Our forces did not know there is a journalist. If he had coordinated with us, it would have been better for his security. Mutilation of bodies is against the rules of Islam. His body was not mutilated. It is a baseless report."

On the subject of recent meetings with the Chinese authorities and whether any help was promised to the Taliban by China, the Taliban spokesperson said that due to the increase in the territory controlled by the Taliban, they would need assistance in many sectors, and China is willing to provide that assistance.

"China is a great neighbouring country. We have had relations with them for many years now. We have regular visits to China. We met with them to share the update on the latest developments in Afghanistan. We want their efforts for peace in Afghanistan to continue. Now that 85% of the Afghanistan territory is in our control, we need help in the health sector, for our people, help in agriculture and education sectors, not only from China but from other countries as well. China has offered their willingness to contribute to peace and reconciliation."

He further confirmed that the Chinese have agreed to provide COVID-related assistance to the Taliban. "Chinese help in combating COVID-19 was discussed and they promised that they will help."

When asked about the reports of Taliban fighters hurling a Pakistani flag alongside the Taliban flag at the Spin Boldak region, as a symbol of support, Shaheen rejected these claims and termed it 'misinformation spread by the Kabul administration'.

"Taliban fighters never raised Pakistan flag in the Spin Boldak area. This is wrong. It is the misinformation spread by the Kabul administration. They have been misleading the opinion of the world against us by releasing many fake stories and videos. This is not our true image."

He further added, "For the last 20 years that we have struggled and put up resistance against occupation, it was the people of Afghanistan, not any other country. Afghanistan and Pakistan are neighbouring countries like several others, we have relations as a neighbouring country with them because we are a landlocked country and our trade depends on either Iran and Pakistan. But to say that Pakistan influences us is totally wrong."

The situation in Afghanistan remains tense. Recent developments pointed at an alleged attack on the office of the United Nations in the Herat province where a security guard lost his life. The Afghan Govt's stand on the issue is that the people of their country do not want the return of the Taliban. Speaking to Times Now earlier this month, Afghan Ambassador to India Farid Mamundzay had said, "Saying that Taliban would be in a position to take over Kabul in 6-12 months is not a realistic assessment of the ground reality. The situation in Afghanistan is difficult, it's challenging, there is a lot of fight in several districts and several provinces, but the heroic patriotism of our security forces and the resilience of our people are there to defend the country. People do not want the return of the Emirates (Taliban)."

With the new spell of violence, it seems like the people of Afghanistan may well have to wait a little longer for the much-awaited peace.