India to host meeting of NSAs of regional countries to discuss Afghanistan

Besides China and Pakistan, regional countries such as Iran, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have also been invited to the meeting.There are no plans to invite the Taliban to the meeting in line with the Indian side’s decision not to rush into recognising the current dispensation in Kabul.
A Taliban fighter walks past the tent of a displaced family fleeing the violence in their province at Shahr-e Naw park in Kabul in Afghanistan. (Image used for representation). (REUTERS PHOTO.)
A Taliban fighter walks past the tent of a displaced family fleeing the violence in their province at Shahr-e Naw park in Kabul in Afghanistan. (Image used for representation). (REUTERS PHOTO.)
Published on Oct 17, 2021 08:31 PM IST
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India is expected to host a meeting of national security advisers (NSAs) of countries in the region, including Pakistan and China, next month to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

This will be the first such meeting to be convened by India since the Taliban marched into Kabul in mid-August, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity. There was no official word on the development.

Besides China and Pakistan, regional countries such as Iran, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have also been invited to the meeting, the people said. There are no plans to invite the Taliban to the meeting in line with the Indian side’s decision not to rush into recognising the current dispensation in Kabul.

There was no word from the Pakistani or Chinese side regarding participation in the meeting, which is expected to be held during November 10-11.

The Indian side earlier had plans to convene a similar meeting in April, with the participation of the former Ashraf Ghani government. However, this was scrapped due to the second wave of Coronavirus infections in India and rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan at the time.

It remains to be seen whether Pakistan’s NSA Moeed Yusuf will agree to join a meeting on Afghanistan at which the Taliban are not present. The Pakistani side, and particularly Yusuf, have been pressing the world community to recognise the Taliban setup.

India last week confirmed its participation in the next round of the Moscow Format dialogue to be hosted by Russia on October 20. A joint secretary from the external affairs ministry will represent India at the meeting, which will be attended by a senior Taliban delegation. The Moscow Format also includes China, Pakistan and Iran.

The Moscow Format meeting will be preceded by a meeting of the “Extended Troika” – which brings together the special envoys of Russia, the US, China and Pakistan – in Moscow on October 19.

India had opened channels of communication with some Taliban factions and leaders last year. Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai, a key player in the group’s political office in Qatar and the current deputy foreign minister, met India’s ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, at the Indian embassy in Doha on August 31, the first officially acknowledged contact between the two sides.

India has stepped up efforts to forge a unified global response to the situation in Afghanistan amid concerns about terrorism spilling over into the region from Afghan soil. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cautioned the world against rushing to recognise the current setup in Kabul as the change of power was not inclusive and done without negotiations. The Indian side has called for the creation of an inclusive government that delivers on counter-terrorism commitments and protects human rights, including those of women and minorities.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021