NEW DELHI: The Centre’s decision to give a visa to Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef has triggered speculation whether the government is exploring options, keeping in view the chaos that many fear will reign in Afghanistan after withdrawal of the US andNATO troops from the war-ravaged country next year.

“It was a conscious decision to facilitate his visa due to certain considerations,” said sources in the ministry of home affairs which was instrumental in the controversial decision, leading many to wonder whether New Delhi is bracing for a situation where it might have to deal with the fundamentalist group which turned Afghanistan into a sanctuary for terrorists and a laboratory for a rigid form of Islam.

MHA sources made it plain that visa for the Taliban leader was not an oversight, emphasizing that the intelligence agencies were very much in the loop.

While the Taliban was considered beyond the pale by the international community post-9/11, its tenacity and the likelihood that it will be factor to reckon with after the pullout of the foreign forces has led the US and other nations to recalibrate their approach towards the bunch.

Zaeef, a close associate of Mullah Omar who headed the Taliban government in Afghanistan before the US invasion in the wake of the terror attack on New York, attended the Think Fest in Goa: a high brow event where Union ministers were also present.

The decision to let him in contrasted with the home ministry’s stringent checks on visa applicants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and other high-risk countries: a precaution which is extended even to people wishing to visit their relatives here.

Intriguingly, the foreign ministry said it had not been consulted or told about the visit.

source: times of india