Afghanistan must get legit govt: Jaishankar
India on Friday stressed the need for a legitimate government in Afghanistan and a reduction in violence, saying the situation in the war-torn country has implications for regional security and stability.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar articulated India’s position during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow against the backdrop of efforts by the Taliban to project itself as a key player following a campaign of targeted assassinations and attacks on crucial districts.
“Violence cannot be the solution for the situation in Afghanistan. And at the end of the day, who governs Afghanistan has a legitimacy aspect to it. I think that is something which cannot and should not be ignored,” Jaishankar said in response to a question on whether the world community could make peace with the fact that Afghanistan would be controlled by the Taliban.
Expressing concern at the “direction of events in Afghanistan”, Jaishankar referred to India’s stated policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
“In many cases, when there is volatility in a society, we leave the people of that country to work it out. But Afghanistan is a very different case because now for more than 30 years, there have been international conferences, groups [and] formats to discuss how to stabilise and bring about peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
“And the reason is because it has proven implications for regional security and regional stability. So the point right now we stress is that we must see a reduction in violence,” he added.
In his opening remarks at the news conference, Jaishankar said the situation in Afghanistan “occupied a lot of our attention because it has a direct implication for regional security”.
He added, “We believe that the immediate need of the day is really a reduction in violence and if we have to see peace within Afghanistan and around Afghanistan, it’s important for India and Russia to work together and ensure that much of the progress that we’ve seen in economic, social and democratic terms are maintained. We are both committed to an independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan.”
Lavrov said the situation in Afghanistan was of “great concern” to Russia because the violence might spill over the borders into Central Asian states.
Jaishankar’s remarks came a day after a Taliban delegation led by key negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar, which was in Moscow for talks with Russian officials, asserted that the group controls “85% of Afghanistan’s territory”.
Delawar told a news conference in Moscow that the US “was forced to leave our territory” because the Taliban brought the Afghan population over to its side under the “principle of Islam”. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted Delawar’s delegation met Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, and discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan and the peace process.
Shaheen said Delawar had “maintained that all borders now in [Taliban] control will remain open and functional”, and that the group would not “target diplomats, embassies and consulates, NGOs and their staff”.
India has been calling for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to end the violence that has coincided with the rapid drawdown of US forces, 90% of which has been completed. US President Joe Biden has said the withdrawal of troops will be completed by August 31, triggering concerns in the region that resultant vacuum will add to the instability in Afghanistan and have far-reaching security implications.
Though New Delhi has steadfastly backed the government of President Ashraf Ghani, it recently opened channels of communication with some Taliban factions and leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.