India will never accept outcome in Afghanistan decided by force: Jaishankar
India is working with the world community to push political negotiations to find a lasting solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and will never accept any outcome decided through the use of force, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
There was a very detailed discussion on the situation in Afghanistan with visiting US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Wednesday and there is “a very strong convergence” in the positions of India and the US on this issue, Jaishankar said while answering a question in the Rajya Sabha or upper house of Parliament.
“We were very clear that there must be a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, that there cannot be a military solution, there cannot be a takeover by use of force in Afghanistan, that we will work with the international community to ensure that political negotiations for a settlement are pursued seriously and we would never accept any outcome which is decided by force,” he said.
He was responding to a question from BJP lawmaker Swapan Dasgupta on China’s apparent efforts to prop up the Taliban. A Taliban delegation led by chief political negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Wednesday, the first high-level engagement between the two sides since the US began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.
India has been increasingly concerned by a massive surge in violence in Afghanistan, including the Taliban’s campaign to capture districts in rural areas and crucial border crossings. It has repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire and resumption of intra-Afghan talks to find a settlement.
Responding to another question from Samajwadi Party lawmaker Rewati Raman Singh on whether human rights and democracy had figured in his talks with Blinken, Jaishankar said the two sides had a “good discussion” on global issues such as human rights, democracy, trafficking and big tech
Jaishankar said he had highlighted that India’s approach to such issues is guided by a “quest for a perfect union”, though the government also seeks to “right historical wrongs”.
This was an apparent reference to the enactment of laws such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and Jaishankar had made a similar comment at his joint media interaction with Blinken on Wednesday.
Jaishankar said the issue of freedom should not be treated as “non-governance or as abdication of responsibilities”. He added, “We believe that our conversations on this subject should be balanced, we also feel that we should have the same standards when we look at the issues and that all conversations should be fact-based.”
The minister also defended India’s participation in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, a grouping that includes Australia, Japan and the US, in the face of criticism from China while responding to more questions.
“Let me make it very clear that when it comes to our relations with the US, Quad [and] Indo-Pacific, these are all our national choices which serve our national interests. We look at Quad as a platform where four countries have come together for the good of the world, who are discussing a range of issues from making and providing vaccines to education and connectivity to maritime security,” he said.
Any narrative about the Quad not based on reality will never gain traction, and India’s work with international partners “will help deal with many regional and global challenges”, he said.