India offers Taliban officials a course in economics and leadership

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India will include Taliban officials in a crash course on its culture, legislation and business climate, underscoring New Delhi’s continued interest in staying engaged with Afghanistan’s new government.

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The four-day virtual course that starts Tuesday is called “Immersing with Indian Thoughts, and will be taught by the Indian Institute of Management in the southern city of Kozhikode.”

The elite management school is working with the India Technical and Economic Cooperation program, as part of India’s Ministry of External Affairs’ regular roster of trainings.

“All those working for the current government can receive the online training after a process of selection by relevant authorities,” said Suhail Shaheen, a senior Taliban diplomat in Doha, Qatar, where the group has a political office.

The Taliban-led Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently released a circular inviting diplomats and personnel to register for the course.

New Delhi doesn’t formally recognize the Taliban government, that seized power in 2021 in the wake of the US exit from Afghanistan.

It did however, re-open its embassy in Kabul last year. India has long been concerned about Afghan soil being used by its neighbor and archrival Pakistan for terror attacks against New Delhi, especially in its restive portion of Kashmir.

The participants will learn about India’s “economic environment, regulatory ecosystem, leadership insights, social and historical backdrop, cultural heritage, legal and environmental landscape, consumer mindsets and business risks,” according to the ITEC website.

The MEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“It appears that there’s an effort on the part of India to show some direct delivery of technical assistance to Taliban, which would help in building good working relations for now,” said Farid Mamundzay, Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi, a holdout from the country’s previous US-backed government who does not represent the Taliban.

“This technical assistance could be the starting point of a larger humanitarian and aid package of India to the Taliban.”

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