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India offering online training program for Taliban diplomats from Kabul

India offering online training program for Taliban diplomats from Kabul

New Delhi: In a first, India will hold an online training program for Afghan Foreign Ministry officials in Kabul from March 14 to 17.

The news came out after the Taliban Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a notice stating that the Indian embassy in Kabul will provide the training from starting from Tuesday. Delegates from several other countries will also attend the online course.

A leaked letter in Dari language from the head of Afghanistan’s Institute of Diplomacy under the Taliban foreign ministry asking officials to register for the course, to be conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Kozhikode, has gone viral on social media.

The course run by IIM is sponsored by the MEA’s Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC), and is open to students ‘across the world, including in Afghanistan’ and will be fully online.

‘This is only an online course available across the world, including to Afghan students. While none of the students is being invited to India, we are not discriminating against Afghan nationals, and anyone can avail of the course,’ a government official said, stressing that New Delhi does not recognise the Taliban, or its MFA, or its diplomats.

There was no official word from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) regarding the letter. India had consistently refused to recognise the Taliban regime that took power by force in Kabul in August 2021.

The decision signifies another step by India in engaging with the Taliban in Afghanistan without recognising the regime. According to the officials, however, the decision does not reflect a change in New Delhi’s policy towards the Taliban government in Kabul.

ITEC is one of the oldest institutionalised arrangements for global capacity building and its programs have more than 200,000 officials from more than 160 countries.

On Monday, a tweet from the official handle for ITEC indicated the course was meant for delegates from various countries. “The #eITEC course on Immersing with Indian Thoughts: An Indian Immersion Program for Cross Sectoral Foreign Delegates will provide a deeper understanding of India’s business environment, cultural heritage, and regulatory ecosystem to participants,” the tweet said.

According to details on the ITEC website, there will be a maximum of 30 participants which will be a mix of government officials, business leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs.

The Taliban is not recognised by any country including India. However, India re-established a diplomatic presence in Kabul by reopening its embassy in June last year.

A small group of diplomats has been deployed in Kabul known as a “technical team” and the MEA said that this was to "closely monitor and coordinate" humanitarian assistance.

India is yet to make a decision on resuming support for development projects across Afghanistan.

According to a letter, circulated within the offices of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan and available online, the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign affairs (MFA) had received intimation from the Indian technical mission in Kabul about a ‘short-term online training program for the staff of the ministry of foreign affairs’ conducted by the IIM.

“The Embassy of India in Kabul, via note verbale No. Kabul/nv/2023/05 dated 23/01/2023 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has announced the organization of a short-term online training program for the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” a translated version of the memo said, adding that the special course, titled “Immersing with India thoughts” would be held from Tuesday (March 14 to 17).

The training program has the theme “Immersing with India Thoughts”, according to an English translation of the letter, which was sent to all internal and provincial offices of the Taliban foreign ministry.

“Respected colleagues who are official employees of the ministry and are interested and fluent in English language can register for the program by using the link until 4/3/2023 and officially inform the Institute of Diplomacy about their registration for the educational program,” the letter said.

The letter added all participants must submit a brief report on the subjects and their learning at the end of the program to the Institute of Diplomacy.

The Taliban have made repeated efforts to gain international recognition, including from India, for their regime, and the people said the leak of the letter should be seen in this light.

The Institute of Diplomacy, like all other official organisations in Kabul, is now completely under the control of the Taliban.

As such, most of the institute’s officials and any person training at the facility have all been appointed by the Taliban. Most diplomats and officials who served under the erstwhile Ashraf Ghani government have fled Afghanistan and taken refuge in countries such as Germany, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Meanwhile, the decision has set off strong reactions among Afghan students who have been denied visas by New Delhi for nearly two years. They termed the decision “contrary to India’s policy” and “disappointing”.

New Delhi had recently sent aid to crisis-hit Afghanistan by sending 20,000 MT, a gesture lauded by the Taliban regime.

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TAGS:Taliban regimeUnion Ministry of External Affairs
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