A top diplomat and former ambassador to Afghanistan on Tuesday said India was not being “sidelined” by Kabul just because it is not a party to the peace talks with Taliban.
Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said that to send out the message that its involvement in Afghanistan was not against any country, India may also collaborate with regional partners in future projects in the war-torn nation.
India is not a party to the peace talks between Taliban and Quadrilateral Coordination Group comprising Afghanistan, China, the US and Pakistan.
Asked whether India was being sidelined by Kabul in the peace talks, Sinha said, “With Taliban, it’s a different matter. In not being able to talk with Taliban, I don’t think we are being sidelined. On the issue of Quadrilateral Coordination Group, the thing is that the structure and way Taliban is headquartered and controlled, that automatically rules us out.
“So, for us to imagine to be a party to the talks... of course, the Americans and the Chinese have a role to play.”
Sinha was speaking at the seminar, ‘Afghanistan: The Way Ahead’, which was also attended by Satinder K Lambah, Vivek Kajtu, Rakesh Sood, Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) Director General Jayant Prasad all of whom have served as Indian envoys to that country.
Sinha added that the Indian policy has always been to be with the government in Kabul.
“India’s policy is to be with the government in power. When the public sentiment was against the (Afghan) government, we were still with them. Some Afghans still hold that against us... We have been consistent (on siding with the government),” he said.
The senior diplomat said two major projects undertaken by India in Afghanistan are on the verge of completion and the two countries are likely to hold a meeting next month to discuss further projects.
“We may also bring in some regional projects for joint collaboration to give some comfort that what we are doing (in Afghanistan) is not against any country.
“Two major projects we are doing are actually coming to an end and we will be meeting Afghan officials in March,” Sinha said.