Afghanistan situation to figure at 3 meetings in Central Asian states

Jaishankar will visit the Central Asian states against the backdrop of growing concern in the region.
Former Mujahideen hold weapons to support Afghan forces in their fight against Taliban, on the outskirts of Herat province, Afghanistan, on July 10, 2021. (Reuters)
Former Mujahideen hold weapons to support Afghan forces in their fight against Taliban, on the outskirts of Herat province, Afghanistan, on July 10, 2021. (Reuters)
Published on Jul 12, 2021 09:06 PM IST
Copy Link

Three meetings to be held in the Central Asian states of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan this week will allow external affairs minister S Jaishankar to compare notes on the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan with interlocutors from several key countries.

Jaishankar will visit the Central Asian states against the backdrop of growing concern in the region over the Taliban’s violent campaign aimed at capturing territory while stalling on peace talks aimed at finding a political settlement.

He will visit Tajikistan during July 13-14 at the invitation of foreign minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin to participate in a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). On the second day of the visit, he will take part in a meeting of the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan.

Jaishankar will then travel to Uzbekistan to participate in a conference on regional trade, transport and connectivity in Tashkent during July 15-16. He is expected to meet several key interlocutors on the margins of the conference with the theme “Central and South Asia: Regional connectivity. challenges and opportunities”.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is set to attend all three events, but people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that no bilateral meeting with Jaishankar has so far been lined up.

Though the main item on the agenda of the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting is the preparations for the SCO heads of states’ meeting to be held in Dushanbe during September 16-17, the people cited above said the situation in Afghanistan is expected to figure prominently in the discussions.

Afghanistan has observer status with the SCO, which includes India, Kazakhstan, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghan foreign minister Haneef Atmar is expected to participate in both meetings in Dushanbe.

Though the focus of the conference in Uzbekistan is on regional trade and connectivity, the presence of top leaders will provide opportunities for the Indian side to discuss the situation in Afghanistan on the margins of the meeting. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is expected to attend the meeting in Tashkent.

The Uzbek government was keen to rope in the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers for the meeting in Tashkent, but the two countries will be represented by their foreign ministers. Representatives of China, Russia, Iran, the European Union and the US are also set to participate in the meeting.

India has expressed strong concerns about the levels of violence in Afghanistan and Jaishankar asserted the need for a legitimate government in Kabul during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow last week. Russia has its own concerns about the violence in Afghanistan spilling over into the Central Asian states.

Tajikistan has been concerned over the worsening security situation, especially after more than 2,000 Afghan troops crossed over into its territory this month to escape assaults by the Taliban. Many of these Afghan troops have since returned to Afghanistan.

Amid the drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban have also seized border crossings with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which last month began a large-scale military exercise to assess the readiness of troops along the Afghan border.

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will also participate in the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan that will meet on 14 July 2021 with the participation of the Afghanistan government.

Ahead of the SCO Summit in September, several meetings of the ministers of defence, justice and finance of the member states are scheduled. Last month, national security advisers of SCO states met in Dushanbe.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • People rally in support of abortion rights Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

    Texas clinics halt abortions after state high court ruling

    The Friday night ruling stopped a three-day-old order by a Houston judge who said clinics could resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. The following day, the American Civil Liberties Union said it doubted that any abortions were now being provided in a state of nearly 30 million people.

  • Other places from which Google will not store location data include fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, and weight loss clinics.

    Google to delete user location history on US abortion clinic visits

    "If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit," Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president at Google, wrote in a blog post. "This change will take effect in the coming weeks."

  • Professor Ajay Agrawal, who was honoured with the Order of Canada in the 2022 list. (Credit: University of Toronto)

    Two Indo-Canadian academics honoured with Order of Canada

    Two Indo-Canadian academics, working on research to advance the betterment of mankind, have been honoured with one of the country's most prestigious awards, the Order of Canada. Their names were in the list published by the office of the governor-general of Canada Mary Simon. Both have been invested (as the bestowal of the awards is described) into the Order as a Member. They are professors Ajay Agrawal and Parminder Raina.

  • SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk.

    Elon Musk's Twitter hiatus, in 2nd week now,  generates curiosity 

    The world's richest person, Elon Musk, has not tweeted in about 10 days and it can't go unnoticed. The 51-year-old business tycoon has 100 million followers on the microblogging site, which he is planning to buy. Since April, he has been making headlines for the $44 billion deal and his comments and concerns about the presence of a large number of fake accounts on Twitter.

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard at a news conference about a new command of hijab by Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    Taliban's reclusive supreme leader attends gathering in Kabul: Report

    The Taliban's reclusive supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada joined a large gathering of nationwide religious leaders in Kabul on Friday, the state news agency said, adding he would give a speech. The Taliban's state-run Bakhtar News Agency confirmed the reclusive leader, who is based in the southern city of Kandahar, was attending the meeting of more than 3,000 male participants from around the country, aimed at discussing issues of national unity.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, July 03, 2022