In a statement that has created a stir in diplomatic circles, a leader of Pakistan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said on live television that the Taliban would help the country ‘liberate’ Kashmir from India. This, she added, was a return favour by Taliban to Imran Khan's government that supported the Taliban fighters.
“Taliban have said that they are with us and they will help us in [liberating] Kashmir,” PTI leader Neelam Irshad Sheikh can be heard saying in the clip shared by Pakistani journalist and former ambassador to US, Hussain Haqqani, on Tuesday.
Sheikh added that Taliban support for the Kashmir cause was a quid pro quo for Pakistan's solid backing to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The militants said they would return the favour by helping Pakistan “make Kashmir a part of its country,” she said.
This left the anchor of the TV show in shock. “Madam, do you realise what you have said? You have no idea what you just said. This show will air around the world; it will be viewed in India as well,” the news anchor asked.
The minister's comments come amid the international bashing Pakistan is facing for allegedly fostering the Taliban in Afghanistan, down to providing them with medical aids, weapons and logistics.
Earlier, Pakistan prime ministre Imran Khan had also hailed the Taliban, saying that with their takeover the “shackles of slavery” has been broken in the war-torn nation.
Several videos surfaced last week of people in Pakistan celebrating the Taliban takeover of the central Asian country. A rally in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, meant to celebrate the Taliban march, saw attendance of Lashkar and Jaish cadre. Celebratory fire was witnessed at the rally.
Another video showed students of radical Jamia Hafsa seminary in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, celebrating the triumph of the insurgents in Afghanistan.
Taliban took control of almost the entire Afghanistan, taking Kabul on August 15. Early messaging from the Taliban is that they are unlikely to focus on India, which has huge investments in that country's development projects.