‘Fist bump’: Senior Afghan leader Dostum meets EAM Jaishankar to discuss peace process
External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday discussed the Afghan peace process with senior Afghan leader Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, saying India remains committed to Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled negotiations.
The visiting former Afghan vice president also met foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and briefed him on the evolving situation in Afghanistan.
Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek warlord, was awarded the rank of Marshal earlier this year as part of the new power-sharing deal between Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah. Though Dostum continues to be an influential figure in Afghanistan, he has been dogged by his controversial past.
He is visiting India a little more than a week after the Taliban and the Afghan government began their first talks in Doha to end 19 years of war that killed tens of thousands and ravaged the country.
“Glad to meet Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum. Exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan and the larger region. His vast experience and deep insights were evident. India remains fully committed to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process,” Jaishankar tweeted after their meeting.
Shringla listened to Dostum’s “insights on the Afghan peace process and evolving situation”, and they also discussed constitutional order and the rights of all sections of Afghan society, said a tweet from the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry.
“India has conveyed its long term commitment to Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added.
India, the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan, has watched a recent spike in violence by the Taliban and terror attacks on minorities such as Sikhs with growing concern. Since 2001, India has undertaken projects worth $3 billion in Afghanistan, including $1 billion pledged in 2016 under the “new development partnership” scheme for five years.
An Indian delegation participated in the September 12 inaugural session of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha which was also addressed via video conference by EAM Jaishankar.
In his address, Jaishankar clarified that any new dispensation which emerges from the intra-Afghan dialogue process must ensure that the soil of Afghanistan is never used for anti-India activities.