Sad to see our Sikh, Hindu brothers leave, says Afghanistan govt

In an exclusive conversation with India Today, the spokesperson to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Sediq Sidiqqi, spoke from Kabul and expressed sadness over members of the Sikh and Hindu communities of Afghanistan leaving for India. Calling them “soulmates” he hoped that they would return. According to him, every Afghan is a victim.

Blaming Pakistan for targeting the minorities, he said that India and Afghanistan should not fall into their trap. “Dividing people on the basis of their faith or sects. It is about the country and each citizen of the country,” said Sidiqqi.

Endorsing the UNSC report, the senior official said that all top leaders of the main terror organisations in the region are in Pakistan and the state provides safe havens to terror groups.

How is Afghanistan viewing the movement of members of the minority community to India?

I will not call them minorities. They are our soulmates. There is enormous respect for the Sikh and Hindu community in Afghanistan and we do everything to ensure they are healthy and are provided security. We are all sad to be honest.

Should they have stayed back and fought along with the other Afghans? Absolutely, we all wish that millions of Afghans who have fled the country could have stayed back like millions of us who are still here and fighting. But again, Afghanistan is a free country and Afghans can choose to go and live outside if they want. We are working for the day when all Afghans can return. Many have returned in the past five years. Around four million who fled the country have come back.

Are Pak-based terror groups as much a concern for Afghanistan as it is for India?

We share the same level of concern and in our security, our national security, regional security is threatened by these terrorist groups, especially the Taliban who have enormous support in Pakistan.

There are lot of intelligence reports that the Taliban, their leaders, the Shura are based in Quetta, Pakistan. Quetta is not in Afghanistan.

This is persecution by fundamentalists and terrorists and not by the State

I agree. We should look at the bigger picture. It is the responsibility of India as a big nation to make sure that our policies lead us towards prosperity for millions of Afghans. If there is peace, everyone will get peace.

The latest UNSC report puts Pakistan in the dock with most terror organisations belonging there. What is Afghanistan’s reaction to the report?

Our concern has been the same for the past so many years. It is a global concern. It is not just us saying that there are safe havens in Pakistan and there is support for these elements within Pakistan, now US and many other countries are saying the same. For us it is very simple, we just want to know what Pakistan is doing and what it has done so far (about it).

Any conversation likely to take place between President Ghani and PM Modi on the minority situation?

It has not happened yet. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the institution that is looking into this. But, we appreciative the support of India. India is an ally.

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