India said on Thursday the countries near and little bit beyond Afghanistan have a very strong interest in ensuring that the outcome in Afghanistan is both good for the war-torn nation as well as the region.
The Taliban militants have seized dozens of districts in recent weeks and are now thought to control about a third of the country, ahead of the withdrawal of US and Western troops from Afghanistan by September 11.
Under a deal with the Taliban, the US and its NATO allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants that they would prevent extremist groups from operating in areas they control.
“If one looks at the issue of terrorism, both India and Russia are against fundamentalist thinking, violence, radicalisation and violent extremism. We are against terrorism,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
Mr Jaishankar, who is in Russia on a three-day visit, made the comments in response to a question on Afghanistan at the Primakov Institute of World Economy & International Relations in Moscow.
“We are pluralistic societies. We have been targeted… I don’t think we have changed our position on terrorism, on fundamentalism, on violence and on defending pluralistic societies,” he said replying to the question.
“On Afghanistan, we have both supported a united Afghanistan, a sovereign Afghanistan, an Afghanistan where minorities have a fair share of representation. We were for an Afghanistan which was at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbours,” he added.
He said India’s approach on Afghanistan has not changed.
Recalling his stopover in Tehran on his way to Russia on Wednesday, Mr Jaishankar said he discussed Afghanistan in “some detail” with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif.
“I do think that the countries of the region, both the near region and the little bit beyond the region, have a very strong interest in ensuring that we get an outcome in Afghanistan which is both good for Afghanistan and good for the region,” he said.
“Whether we have the wisdom to do it, whether we have the clarity of thinking to do it, that”s very much up to our generation,” he added.
“So, we are quite clear what the challenges are,” he added.
While in Moscow, Mr Jaishankar is expected to exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
India, a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
Interestingly, Mr Jaishankar’s visit to Tehran came on a day when Iran hosted a high-level intra-Afghan dialogue between Taliban and Afghan government representatives, in the midst of major developments in Afghanistan.
The intra-Afghan dialogue was attended by the Taliban political committee led by chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Afghan government officials, including former Vice President Younus Qanooni, and others from the High Council for National Reconciliation.
The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 after multiple rounds of negotiations to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America’s longest war.
India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US signed the peace deal with the Taliban. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains on Washington’s 18-year war with Taliban in the country.
India has said it was committed to steadfastly supporting Afghanistan during its transition. Its development partnership of USD 3 billion, including more than 550 Community Development Projects covering all 34 provinces, is aimed at making Afghanistan a self-sustaining nation.