Kabul: India is willing to engage with the Taliban, unlike other countries, to restore normalcy and to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, former Afghanistan Intelligence Chief Rahmatullah Nabil said.

In a recent interview on the sidelines of a conference of anti-Taliban Afghan leaders with the US and EU representatives, Nabil said that unlike other countries India didn't take any side with the political stakeholders and has always followed its non-interference in the internal affairs policy. India expressed its willingness to engage with the Afghan Taliban for tackling the humanitarian crisis in the country and restore the scuttled development projects for revitalizing the economic growth of the country, Noman Hossain writes in Khaama Press.

He also said that India should keep its channels open with Afghanistan's former leaders as the Pakistani terrorist group such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which are targeting India, which had shifted its base to Afghanistan.

He added that "we are not in a position now to advise India, and they know their national interest better. But they should not live in any illusion that the Taliban has changed."

Recently, on November 16, in 'Moscow format for consultation on Afghanistan,' India along with other participating countries - Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan agreed on the urgency to end all terrorist infrastructures and desisting and preventing establishing military infrastructure facilities of third countries in Afghanistan and adjacent states.

India in the Moscow format called various stakeholders to provide assistance in resolving the current humanitarian crisis and support the formation of an inclusive and representative government. It was also felt necessary to counter terrorism and ensure regional security.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said that the preliminary official GDP statistics of Afghanistan show that the economy contracted by 20.7 per cent in 2021. Explaining the reasons for the dramatic drop in the GDP, it pointed out towards drop in public spending and aggregate demand, shrinking household incomes and reduced consumption. The asset freeze and anti-money laundering & financing terrorism concerns also hindered the functioning of normal correspondent banking relations between Afghan and foreign banks. International banks are still reluctant to re-establish correspondent relations with Afghan banks. With an accumulated contraction of GDP of around 30-35 per cent between 2021 and 2022, the World Bank has forecasted that the country could grow only by 2-2.5 per cent in the next two years. The situation is grim, according to the Khaama Press.

According to a Gallup survey of one year after the Taliban's takeover, 9 out of 10 Afghans find it difficult to make ends meet, i.e., 90 per cent of Afghans said it was difficult or very difficult to get on by household income. In contrast, 92 per cent thought that it was a difficult time for the job. Recently World Food Programme assessment estimated that half of Afghanistan's population - almost 20 million people - are currently suffering from crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. In addition to lacking money for food, a record-high 73 per cent of Afghans also reported lacking enough money for an adequate shelter in the past twelve months.

India takes its relations with Afghanistan with the warmth of a long-lasting friend. It not only came forward with food and medicines for assistance to Covid-19 hit people and later after the devastating earthquake. India donated consignments of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan including 40,000 MTs of wheat; about 50 tonnes of medical aid and assistance and 500,000 of Covid-19 vaccine; and about 28 tonnes of other disaster relief material. Afghanistan's current regime has urged India to invest in urban infrastructure projects during a meeting between the Indian technical mission in Kabul and Afghan Minister for Urban Development, Khaama Press reported.

According to the author, both India and Afghanistan are on the path of resuming their warm and cooperative and constructive engagement.

In August Interim government of Afghanistan's Foreign department, Minister said India's diplomatic presence in the country would result in the completion of "unfinished projects" that New Delhi had initiated and the commencement of new ones.

India would resume work on at least 20 projects in several provinces of the country. India, before the takeover of the Taliban, had invested in development and capacity-building projects of around USD 3 billion. Taliban 2.0 is also quite conscious of the development deficit in the country and the changing times and aspirations of its own people and the international community. Hopefully, it would stand up to the expectations, especially in shuffling away from its image as supporting terror and violence, according to the author.