Back deals that bring Afghanistan peace: India

Ghughuti Bulletin

NEW DELHI: As US signalled an end to the war in Afghanistan with a peace deal with Taliban, a cautious India underlined its support to the agreement, which has been backed by all in the war-ravaged country, but not without mentioning the necessity for some of the parties involved to shun international terrorism.

India also indicated that it will not constrain its footprint in Afghanistan with foreign secretary
Harsh Shringla meeting with Afghan leaders in
Kabul and reiterating India’s commitment to an enhanced political, economic and development partnership. The meetings — even as the peace deal was being signed in
Doha — indicate a resolve to remain engaged in Afghanistan, counter to expectations in some quarters in
Pakistan that Indian presence could be whittled down.

Soon after the agreement was signed in Doha, the government said its consistent policy was to support all opportunities that can “bring peace, security and stability in Afghanistan; end violence; cut ties with international terrorism; and lead to a lasting political settlement through an Afghan led, Afghan owned and Afghan controlled process’’.

Significantly, describing Afghanistan as a contiguous neighbour (given India’s claim over PoK), the government said India will continue to extend all support to Afghan government and people in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future where interests of all sections of Afghan society are protected.

“We note that the entire political spectrum in Afghanistan, including the government, the democratic polity and civil society, has welcomed the opportunity and hope for peace and stability generated by these agreements,’’ said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

Indian officials privately welcomed US secretary of state
Mike Pompeo’s remark that US will calibrate the pace of its troop withdrawal with Taliban’s action and compliance. Indian had warned US in the run-up to the deal that a hasty drawdown could worsen the security situation in the country and far beyond.

However, apprehensive as India is about Pakistan’s role in the US-Taliban deal, Shringla also underscored that sustainable peace in Afghanistan required an end to externally sponsored terrorism.

The government said in a statement on Shringla’s visit that the leadership of Afghanistan deeply appreciated India’s support for its peace, development and prosperity, including the efforts for regional connectivity such as the operationalisation of
Chahbahar Port and establishment of air freight corridors between various cities of India and Afghanistan.

Agreements for road projects in Bamyan and Mazar-e-Sharif provinces of Afghanistan with Indian development assistance were also signed during Shringla’s visit. “It was agreed to work together for implementation of the
New Development Partnership and further expand cooperation in accordance with the Strategic Partnership Agreement,’’ said the government.

In his meetings. Shringla reiterated India’s consistent support for an independent, sovereign, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Afghanistan “in which interests of all sections of Afghan society are preserved’’. He also conveyed India’s support for enduring and inclusive peace and reconciliation which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

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