Region will feel safer if Afghan soil isn’t used by terror groups: India at UNSC meet

India’s ambassador to the UN, TS Tirumurti, noted the situation in Afghanistan had dramatically changed since the last Security Council meeting 10 days ago, and was of “great concern” to New Delhi. He reiterated India’s call for respecting the rights of Afghan women, children and minorities.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the UNSC meeting on Afghanistan in New York on Monday. (ANI PHOTO.)
UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the UNSC meeting on Afghanistan in New York on Monday. (ANI PHOTO.)
Updated on Aug 16, 2021 11:47 PM IST
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India said on Monday that Afghanistan’s neighbours and the region would feel safer if Afghan soil isn’t used by terror groups to attack any other country as the UN Security Council debated the situation in the war-torn country following a Taliban takeover.

Most of the 15 permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council said the Taliban must ensure the territory of Afghanistan is not used by groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They called on the Taliban to ensure the security of foreign missions and humanitarian organisations during the second meeting on Afghanistan within 10 days under the Indian presidency of the UN body.

However, remarks by the representatives of Russia and China hinted at a greater willingness to engage with the Taliban, who entered Kabul on Sunday after the civilian government collapsed as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, singled out Iran as an important regional player that could work with the “extended troika”, which includes Pakistan.

India’s ambassador to the UN, TS Tirumurti, noted the situation in Afghanistan had dramatically changed since the last Security Council meeting 10 days ago, and was of “great concern” to New Delhi. He reiterated India’s call for respecting the rights of Afghan women, children and minorities, and added that a “broader representation would help the arrangement gain more acceptability and legitimacy”.

“The current situation in Afghanistan has numerous challenges. However, there are a few opportunities. If there is a zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and it is ensured that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country, then Afghanistan’s neighbours and the region would feel safer,” he said.

Tirumurti noted that Afghan men, women and children are living in a constant state of fear amid increasing violations of their fundamental rights, and said: “We hope that the situation stabilises soon, and the parties concerned address the humanitarian and security issues. We also hope that there is an inclusive dispensation which represents all sections of Afghan society.”

The world community and the Security Council should ensure an immediate cessation of violence and contain any possible crisis, and countries should rise above partisan interests to support Afghans to achieve peace, stability and security, he said.

Recalling India’s contributions to the development of Afghanistan, Tirumurti said the country had ongoing development projects in all of the 34 Afghan provinces in critical areas such as power, water supply, road connectivity and healthcare.

Russian envoy Nebenzia said Kabul had been “quickly abandoned by the country’s leader” and widespread bloodshed had been avoided as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital on Sunday. “Currently, we believe there is no point in panicking... Russia will interact with the Taliban irrespective of the evolving situation and their specific actions,” he added.

Referring to Russia’s “extended troika” group that includes the US, China and Pakistan, Nebenzia said: “We believe that an important role could be played by Iran as well here.”

Chinese deputy permanent representative Geng Shuang noted that some Security Council members desired a greater role to be played by Afghanistan’s neighbours, and, in an apparent reference to Pakistan, said: “We learnt that some regional countries and Afghanistan’s neighbours had made a request to participate in today’s meeting. It is regrettable that their requests were not granted.”

Pakistan’s efforts to join both the Security Council meetings did not meet with success, with the body’s members turning down the country’s request.

Geng further noted that the Taliban had said the war in Afghanistan has ended and that the group will negotiate to establish “an open and inclusive Islamic government” and take “responsible actions” for the safety of Afghans and foreign missions. He hoped the Taliban will unite with all parties and ethnic groups to establish a broad and inclusive political structure for lasting peace.

Both Geng and Nebenzia also referred to threats posed to their countries by terror groups based in Afghanistan, such as Islamic State, al-Qaeda and ETIM, but made no mention of organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that pose concerns for India.

US permanent representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on all parties to prevent terrorism and to ensure Afghanistan “cannot ever, ever again be a base for terrorism”, while the UK representative noted that the Taliban had pledged at Doha to engage in talks in good faith but “their actions on the ground have betrayed that promise”.

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