India flags concerns about narcotics and terror at regional meet on Afghanistan | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India flags concerns about narcotics and terror at regional meet on Afghanistan

Feb 16, 2024 07:11 PM IST

Deputy national security adviser Vikram Misri represented India at the 6th regional dialogue of officials of security councils and national security advisers on Afghanistan, which was held in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek

New Delhi: India highlighted its worries about large drug shipments linked to Afghanistan and potential instability due to the presence of terrorists from banned groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on Afghan soil at a meeting of senior regional security officials on Friday.

The 6th Regional Dialogue of Secretaries of Security Councils/National Security Advisers on Afghanistan was held in Bishkek today (ANI Photo)
The 6th Regional Dialogue of Secretaries of Security Councils/National Security Advisers on Afghanistan was held in Bishkek today (ANI Photo)

Deputy national security adviser Vikram Misri represented India at the 6th regional dialogue of officials of security councils and national security advisers on Afghanistan, which was held in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek. Iran, India, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Turkmenistan and Pakistan are members of this regional security mechanism.

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Drug trafficking is a “serious menace” for the region and recent seizures of large drug shipments are a “worrisome trend”, Misri told the meeting, according to people familiar with the matter.

Afghan territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts, especially by individuals proscribed by the UN Security Council, including those from LeT and JeM, Misri said. He said it is well established that any instability in Afghanistan is a threat to the entire region.

India “was and is an important stakeholder” in Afghanistan, and it is imperative to have a “consensus-based approach” at the regional and international levels, Misri added.

The region’s common immediate priorities include providing humanitarian aid, ensuring the formation of a truly inclusive and representative government in Kabul, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.

The collective approach to terrorism was articulated by UN Security Council Resolution 2593, which was adopted in 2021 and emphasises the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, including banned individuals and entities, and the Taliban’s commitments in this regard.

The Indian side told the meeting it has partnered with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Afghanistan to provide humanitarian aid to individuals, especially women, benefiting from drug rehabilitation programmes. Under this partnership, India supplied 11,000 units of hygiene kits, baby food kits, blankets and medical aid to the UNODC.

The regional dialogue of security officials has emerged as an important mechanism for assessing the situation in Afghanistan after the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in 2021. India hosted the 3rd regional security dialogue in New Delhi in November 2021.

The meeting was held weeks after a new report by the UN team that monitors sanctions on the Taliban said the “high concentration of terrorist groups in Afghanistan undermines the security situation in the region”, with the greatest threat still coming from the Islamic State-Khorasan Province or IS-KP.

The report further said the relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda “remains close, and the latter maintains a holding pattern in Afghanistan under Taliban patronage”. Regional countries have assessed al-Qaeda “continues to pose a threat in the region, and potentially beyond”.

According to the people cited above, Misri told the meeting that India has had a consistent and steadfast policy of supporting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan. As a contiguous neighbour, India has “legitimate economic and security interests in Afghanistan”, he said.

For India, development is a fundamental human right and New Delhi believes in working with the world community and like-minded actors for the welfare of the Afghan people, he added.

The Indian side also highlighted its presence in some 500 projects spread across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan in critical areas such as power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education and agriculture.

India has invested more than $3 billion in the welfare of the Afghan people and supplied almost 50,000 tonnes of wheat, 250 tonnes of medical aid and 28 tonnes of earthquake relief aid. Following an urgent UN appeal, India also supplied 40,000 litres of the pesticide Malathion to Afghanistan to fight locusts.

Misri also highlighted the importance of creating economic opportunities in Afghanistan, empowering the people to be self-reliant and rebuilding the economy. In this context, India has continued its trade ties with Afghanistan and still provides tariff concessions under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement.

The Indian side invited Central Asian states to use Iran’s Chabahar port, where an Indian state-run firm operates the Shaheed Behesti terminal, for maritime trade. It also sought the support of other countries to include Chabahar port in the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

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