India hosts talks on Afghanistan

Published November 11, 2021

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday hosted senior security officials from Russia, Iran and five Central Asian countries to discuss the ramifications of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in talks that were boycotted by Pakistan and China.

A joint statement released after the meeting said the eight participating nations also discussed threats arising from terrorism, radicalisation and drug trafficking as well as the need for humanitarian assistance. No details were provided.

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval invited security chiefs from Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkm­enistan and Uzbekistan for the meeting. Afghan representatives were not invited. Pakistan and China declined to attend, with Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf last week calling India a spoiler and not a peacemaker in Afgh­anistan.

This is a time for close consultation among us, Doval said in opening remarks ahead of the meeting. He said he hoped the deliberations will help the people of Afghanistan and enhance the region’s collective security.

The top security officials were expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first two editions of the meeting were hosted by Iran in 2018 and 2019.

India’s foreign ministry officials said Pakistan’s refusal to attend the meeting was unfortunate, but not surprising and reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate.

The meeting underscores India’s attempts to protect its strategic interests in Afghan­istan amid Pakistan’s growing influence in the region.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2021

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