Iran, Russia and all five Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, have confirmed that they will participate in the NSA level meeting on Afghanistan that India is slated to host on November 10.
India has not invited the representatives of the Taliban to the high-level meeting as New Delhi does not recognise the government led by the insurgent group in Afghanistan.
The dialogue will be the first-of-its-kind conference on the situation in India’s neighbouring country, Afghanistan after it was taken over by the Taliban in August. NSAs of China and Pakistan, too, were invited to the meet.
The invitations were sent out last month by the National Security Council Secretariat via the invitee countries’ embassy in New Delhi. India also plans to hold a dinner that will be hosted by NSA Ajit Doval. The meeting will last for one whole day.
Bi-lateral meetings of NSA Doval with his counterparts are also scheduled. Besides, all visiting NSAs will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While Pakistan outrightly rejected India’s invitation, China said it is unable to attend due to “scheduling issues", but will maintain communication on Afghanistan through bilateral or multilateral forums.
Speaking to Pakistani media, NSA Yusuf had earlier said, “I won’t go. A spoiler cannot try to become a peacemaker.” Yusuf was speaking to the media following a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Secretary of Security Council Lt Gen. Viktor Makhmudov, who was in Islamabad for the Establishment of a Joint Security Commission with Pakistan. He has also been invited to the NSA meet in New Delhi.
India has dubbed Pakistan’s decision “unfortunate, but not surprising". “It reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate. Pakistan has not attended the previous meetings of this format. Its media comments against India are an unsuccessful attempt to deflect attention from its pernicious role in Afghanistan," New Delhi maintained.
The conference will discuss the threat of terrorism emanating from various groups in Afghanistan, besides the menace of drug trafficking, refugees, and connectivity at a time when the country is going through a gigantic economic and humanitarian crisis.
The key agenda of the conference includes: security Challenges post-Taliban regime, stability in Afghanistan, inclusive government formation and recognition of the current dispensation to be discussed.
The attendance from Iran, Russia and Central Asia underlines the importance attached to India’s role in regional efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan. The countries will have a joint strategy to move ahead on the Afghanistan issue.
After US/NATO pull out, India wants issues to be addressed as per the wishes of the Afghan people.
The high-level participation in this week’s meeting hosted by India reflects the widespread and growing concern of regional countries about the situation in Afghanistan and their desire to consult and coordinate with each other. India has an important role to play in this process.
Two earlier meetings in this format have been held in Iran in September 2018 and December 2019. The third meeting in India could not be held earlier due to the pandemic.
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