India to join meeting on Afghanistan situation in Qatar on Thursday
The focus of these meetings is on reviving the stalled Afghan peace process amid the Taliban’s campaign of violence and attacks that has already resulted in the fall of nine provincial capitals in just five days
India is set to participate in a meeting of key countries being hosted by Qatar on Thursday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan against the backdrop of the Taliban’s massive offensive that has already resulted in the fall of nine provincial capitals.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that India will be represented at the meeting in Doha that will also be joined by nations such as Indonesia and Turkey, which is set to take over the security of Bagram airbase.
There was no official word on the matter from the external affairs ministry and the people cited above were tight-lipped about the level of India’s participation. The invitation to join the meeting was extended by Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, Qatar’s special envoy for counter-terrorism and conflict resolution, when he visited New Delhi last week.
Qatar on Wednesday hosted a meeting of the “extended troika” that was convened by Russia and was joined by the US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his counterparts from Russia, China and Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Qatar had hosted a meeting of representatives from China, the US, the UK, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, the UN and the European Union (EU) to assess the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.
The focus of these meetings is on reviving the stalled Afghan peace process amid the Taliban’s campaign of violence and attacks that has already resulted in the fall of nine provincial capitals in just five days – Sheberghan, Sari Pul, Aybak, Kunduz, Taluqan, Pul-e-Khumri, Farah, Zaranj and Faizabad.
India has already said any forcible takeover of Kabul will not be legitimate and backed calls for a negotiated political settlement that preserves the gains under a democratic system over the past two decades and ensures the rights of minorities, women and ethnic groups.
New Delhi also advised all Indian nationals in Afghanistan on Tuesday to make immediate arrangements to return home as it evacuated some 50 officials and security personnel from the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif. According to figures provided by the government to Parliament last week, some 1,500 Indian nationals are currently in Afghanistan.
During a meeting with Al-Qahtani in New Delhi on Saturday, external affairs minister S Jaishankar expressed concern at the rapid deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan. Jaishankar also shared concerns from across the region about the situation in the wake of the Taliban’s campaign to capture urban centres after taking over wide swathes of territory in rural areas.