File photo of Afghanistan flag. Photograph:( Reuters )
Saleh lauded India Afghan ties but on Pakistan, he said, 'terrorist sanctuaries' continue inside the country.
Afghanistan goes to polls on Saturday. Ahead of the elections, WION's Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Siddhant Sibal spoke to Amrullah Saleh, former chief of Afghanistan's intelligence agency--National Directorate of Security (NDS). He was the chief of the intelligence agency from 2004-2010, the longest-serving chief of the NDS.
Saleh lauded India Afghan ties and said, "we look at India as an ally from all aspect" but on Pakistan, he said, "terrorist sanctuaries" continue inside the country.
WION: How do you see India Afghanistan ties?
Amrullah Saleh: The relationship between Afghanistan and India is the best. But there is room for more expansion and more improvement, room for trade between the two countries go far beyond what we have today. Security cooperation must expand and there is space for it.
India is very generous in the provision for scholarships for Afghan students and that has brought a significant change in capacity of Afghan administration, it has helped Afghanistan to have much better human capital but still, it can be expanded. India is seen as the development partner of the country. Of course, cultural ties have always been there for centuries and thousands and thousands of years. We look at India as an ally from all aspect.
WION: A political change has come to Pakistan. There has been talk of 'Naya Pakistan. Do you see a change?
Saleh: We have ways to measure if anything is new there. Our criteria for measuring relationship is -- have terror attacks decreased in my country? No. Have they closed safe havens in Pakistan? No. Have they forced out Taliban leader from the country? The answer is no. So for as long as there is terrorism, for as long as there is proxy conflict, for as long as Pakistanis try to influence the situation in Afghanistan through the barrel of terrorist guns, regardless of the developments within Pakistan, relationship with Afghanistan will not see much improvement.
WION: So you don't see much change from Imran Khan?
Saleh: So far we have not seen any tangible change. Every time there is a new Prime Minister or some change in Pakistan they bring new words, they bring new phrases and they spin their narrative but as far as practical steps are concerned, no steps have been taken to mitigate some of the boldest concerns Afghanistan has expressed for years and years about the existence of terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan.
WION: How do you see US Taliban talks. Its Impact?
Saleh: The position of Afghans is that the negotiation process should be owned, led and under control of the Afghan government. Afghan government must have a consensus of the political class of the Afghan people. The ongoing negotiation between the US and the Taliban doesn't necessarily mean our aspirations or our interest are represented by the American delegation.