Tribune India

Afghan ambassador to India Dr Shaida Abdali, in an exclusive interview with The Tribune’s Smita Sharma, said his country and India are facing the same enemy and that Afghanistan wants Sikhs to have their leader in Parliament. The entire nation, he says, is mourning the death of 17 Sikhs in the terror attack. Excerpts:

What was the message of the Jalalabad terror strike?

It was a very tragic and painful incident where two days back we lost 17 Afghan Sikhs in Jalalabad. Afghanistan is losing its sons on a daily basis, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims. In two days we lost more than 60 Afghans in Jalalabad. This is the pain we are going through on a daily basis. Avtar Singh, the leader of the Sikh community, in an interview 10 days before his killing stated that he was standing for elections for the cause of Afghanistan. He said that he would be ready to lose his life and sacrifice it for Afghanistan. This is the patriotism that Afghans share, including our Sikh brothers. 

Will it create a shadow of fear for minorities in the upcoming polls? 

We will move on, no matter how many we lose for the cause of a peaceful, stable and democratic Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Afghan people will not be shaken, even if the enemies keep trying their best to terrorise us. They don’t want the Afghan people to progress. 

 IS has claimed responsibility for the Jalalabad attack. Do your investigations confirm that? 

Terrorist attacks in Afghan are claimed by the Taliban, Daesh, sometimes by other terror groups. Investigation is going on to look at this particular incident and see what transpired and where was this attack staged. But Afghanistan and India both are facing a common enemy. Terrorism that is engineered against our people. It is time for us to stand along with everyone else and convey that Afghanistan and India will not be alone in this painful journey forever.

Are you saying Pakistan and its agencies played a role in the Jalalabad attack too? 

Terrorism in Afghanistan is exported from across the border. We have to work for the end of state sponsorship of terrorism. The world is no longer in doubt about the nature of terrorism and its roots. We have to go against the state sponsors of terrorism that reside across the border. 

Sikh community members protested in Delhi today. What is your message for security of minorities in Afghanistan? 

Afghans, no matter who and where they are, will take all steps to protect them (the minorities). I spoke with our National Security Adviser on Tuesday and he asked me to convey his message to the Sikh community brothers whom I met at the Embassy. I conveyed to them that the government and the people of Afghanistan will do everything possible to protect their lives. Dangers are posed to all of us and we have to stand up to it.

Avtar would have been the first Sikh MP in Afghan parliament. Can this vacuum be filled? 

Avtar Singh's footsteps must be followed. The enemy did not want the Sikh community to have a leader. But the Afghans would want the Sikhs to have a leader in Parliament. We want this place to be filled. Afghans will do anything it requires to have a Sikh leader in their Parliament. 

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