NEW DELHI: NSA Ajit Doval set the tone for India’s conference on Afghanistan with discussions Tuesday on enhanced terror threat from the country, and also the looming humanitarian crisis it’s facing, with his Tajikistan and Uzbekistan counterparts, Nasrullo Mahmudzoda and Viktor Makhmudov respectively. Both central Asian countries share a border with Afghanistan and have concerns similar to India’s on issues like terrorism and the need for an inclusive government in Kabul.
The threat from terrorism, the need for a legitimate government and urgent response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis are issues likely to dominate India’s Afghanistan conference on Wednesday. For India, despite the absence of China and Pakistan, the conference is an important step for underlining its role in regional efforts for peace and security in Afghanistan and also its commitment to the Afghan people in addressing the humanitarian challenges faced by them. Shortly after the conference, India will also host US special representative for Afghanistan Thomas West.
Without naming Pakistan official sources said, India and Uzbekistan emphasised the need for Afghanistan’s neighbours to ensure unhindered access to humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. They were also said to have agreed that neighbouring states must play a constructive role in Afghanistan.
With Pakistan yet to approve India’s proposal for transporting 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan through the land route, India has been emphasising the need for urgent and unhindered access to humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan. In the meeting with Tajikistan, both sides expressed concerns about the “sharp increase in terrorist threats’’ from Afghanistan in the recent past with the Tajik side highlighting, as government sources said, the gravity of the situation in Afghanistan.
Doval and his Uzbek counterpart also agreed that the future of Afghanistan must be decided by the people of Afghanistan themselves and that the legitimacy of any Afghan government within Afghanistan was important before considering the issue of its international recognition, official sources said. According to Indian authorities, there was a significant “convergence of assessments’’ on threats and challenges emanating from Afghanistan.
While China has turned down India’s invite citing scheduling issues, its special representative will participate in the troika plus meeting on Afghanistan that Pakistan will host a day after India’s conference. Global Times also quoted an expert to say that India must abandon its “zero-sum mentality’’ if it wanted to play an important role in regional security affairs. The Chinese official will be joined by his US and Russian counterparts. Russia confirmed in a statement Tuesday that its NSA Nikolai Patrushev will attend the conference in India.
With the impending winter threatening to further exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, India is also likely to look for ways to expedite assistance to the Afghan people. After it offered aid to the Taliban in a meeting in Moscow, the latter responded later by saying it was open to accepting aid from India as well as to the return of Indian diplomats to Afghanistan.




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