New Delhi: India will join nine countries and the Taliban in Moscow Wednesday to figure out the way forward for Afghanistan, especially human rights and aid, more than two months after the radical Islamist group took control of the war-torn country.
New Delhi, sources said, is participating in the meeting to understand how regional countries plan to deal with the Taliban dispensation going forward. Participating in the meeting is not recognition of the Taliban government, the sources said.
This will be the second time Indian representatives will be interacting with the Taliban since Kabul fell on 15 August. That month, India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal had held talks with senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai.
The nine other countries are hosts Russia (host), China, Pakistan, Iran, the five Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
India will be represented by J.P. Singh, Joint Secretary for the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Division, and Adarsh Swaika, Joint Secretary for the Eurasia Division in the Ministry of External Affairs.
“During the meeting, it is planned to discuss prospects for development of the military-political situation in Afghanistan and the formation of an inclusive government. Participants will also touch upon the issues of consolidating efforts of the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis in this country. Following the meeting, it is planned to adopt a joint statement,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
India has said it will continue to stand beside the Afghans, but remains concerned about a rise in terrorist activities, with an active role being played by the Haqqani Network.
While India has halted its evacuation exercise as hundreds of Afghan men and women wait for the e-visas to be issued to them, New Delhi is facing challenges in terms of running flights directly between both countries, sources told ThePrint.
D.B. Venkatesh Varma, India’s outgoing ambassador to Russia, told the Kommersant newspaper that New Delhi and Moscow have a “common destination” when it comes to dealing with the Taliban.
“India and Russia, I believe, may have travelled along different roads — we were not part of the Doha and Troika processes but our destination is common. The situation in Afghanistan poses similar problems in terms of instability, drug trafficking, terrorism threat, and also the instability that may radiate towards Central Asia,” he said.
“Both sides recognise common threats emanating from Afghanistan affect India & Russia, probably more than any other set of countries.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be addressing the meeting, according to the ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova, and the Taliban are expected to be represented by a “large delegation”.
Zabiullah, Taliban spokesperson, said in a tweet Tuesday: “A high-level delegation from the Islamic Emirate is attending the Moscow Format Summit.”
— Zabihullah (..ذبـــــیح الله م ) (@Zabehulah_M33) October 19, 2021
At a conference Tuesday, Lavrov said Russia will not officially recognise the Taliban for now, and wants the group to adhere to their international commitments, like the creation of an inclusive government consisting of all ethnicities of the country.
This is the third meeting of the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan, after 2017 and 2018, but the first since the Taliban took over Kabul on 15 August 2021.
On Monday, Moscow hosted a meeting of the special representatives of Russia, China and Pakistan for Afghanistan, and “exchanged views on common security threats, expressed their joint interest in providing Afghanistan with urgent humanitarian and economic assistance”.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)