(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette)
India has signed off on a joint statement following a meeting of the Moscow Format on Afghanistan, which terms as“unacceptable” the military infrastructure facilities built by other nations in that country. While Russia and Pakistan perceive this line to be a reference to the US, Delhi's view is that it is about Pakistan's military presence there, The Indian Express has learnt.
“It was stressed that the placement of military infrastructure facilities of third countries in Afghanistan and in adjacent states is unacceptable,” said the joint statement, which has also been signed off by Pakistan and was issued after the meeting hosted by Russia in Moscow on November 16.
Apart from Russia, India and Pakistan, the meeting was attended by China, Iran, the Central Asian neighbours of Afghanistan and several invitees.
The joint statement said the participants were also“convinced” that“forces responsible for the 20-year military presence” in Afghanistan should take on the“main financial burden” for the post-conflict reconstruction of its economy without intervention in its internal affairs.
However, it also specified that“most of the delegations” agreed to make a call to compensate for the damage caused to Afghan people during the years of US-nato presence. This suggests that India may have opted out of this call, it is learnt.
Referring to the Taliban regime, the statement said,“The strengthening of Afghan authorities' efforts to ensure the basic rights and freedoms of the population were noted as important. The sides also expressed their support for the fundamental rights of all ethnic groups, including minorities, women and children, providing equal access to justice and education respectively.”
The joint statement referred to the delhi Regional Security Dialogue that took place in November last year, and was attended by the national security advisors of several of Afghanistan's neighbours, except Pakistan and China. The latest statement states that“the participants expressed their readiness to continue joint steps towards a peaceful Afghanistan”.
The Moscow meeting was attended by special representatives and senior officials from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Representatives of Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were also present as guests.
India was represented by the Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary in charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, J P Singh, who has been the point-person to engage with the Taliban regime. The Indian delegation also held discussions with Special Envoys of the participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting.
Referring to the Moscow Format, the Ministry of External Affairs said,“During the meeting, the participants discussed issues related to Afghanistan, including the current humanitarian situation and the ongoing efforts of various stakeholders to provide assistance, intra-Afghan talks, formation of an inclusive and representative government, efforts to counter threats of terrorism and ensuring regional security.”
The joint statement, meanwhile, said the participants reiterated their commitment to a“peaceful, unified, sovereign, independent and economically developing Afghanistan, free from the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking”.
On the issue of terrorism, the statement said:“Afghanistan was requested to fulfill its commitments to eradicate terrorism and drug trafficking emanating from its territory, take more visible steps against all terrorist organisations, and to firmly fight, dismantle and eliminate them, so as to ensure that Afghanistan would never again serve as a breeding ground, safe haven or source of proliferation for terrorism.”
It said:“In this context, participants strongly condemned the terror attacks targeting innocent Afghan civilians at public places, including educational institutes and the recent attack at the Russian Embassy in Kabul.”
The statement underlined the need to form a“truly inclusive government in Afghanistan” reflecting the interests of all major ethno-political groups of the country. The importance of“practical engagement with Afghanistan” in this regard was also highlighted, it said. India has established a team for this purpose at its embassy in Kabul.
The statement also underscored that an economic meltdown in Afghanistan would lead to a“mass exodus of refugees, promote extremism, terrorism and instability”.“The participants commended Afghanistan's neighbouring countries for the hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees and emphasised the importance of a safe, dignified, time-bound and well-resourced repatriation of refugees back to Afghanistan,” it said. Pakistan is one of the nations that hosts Afghan refugees. (Indian Express)