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Indian ‘Friends of Afghanistan’ urge Modi govt to shelter Afghans irrespective of religion

In letter to government, international community and Taliban, the 11 signatories, including former Union ministers Natwar Singh, Yashwant Sinha & Mani Shankar Aiyar, urge for peace in the region.

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New Delhi: Former Union ministers Natwar Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Mani Shankar Aiyar and eight other eminent personalities expressed deep concern on the situation in Afghanistan and called for peace and stability in the country, in an appeal released Wednesday.

Addressed to the Government of India, the international community and the Taliban, the signatories of the appeal said they stood “shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in these difficult times”.

The letter was co-signed by 11 individuals — including former police officer Julio Ribeiro, former Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, former diplomat K.C. Singh and former Rajya Sabha MP Majeed Memon — under the banner of ‘Indian Friends of Afghanistan’.

They expressed concern about the situation in Afghanistan and on the well-being, security and national aspirations of the Afghan people.

While the signatories welcomed the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, they noted that “the unplanned manner of its execution created conditions of avoidable chaos”.

“The chaotic circumstances emboldened certain terrorist groups to kill innocent Afghans and foreigners,” they added.

The letter also condemned the suicide attack in Kabul on 26 August, which led to the deaths of nearly 100 Afghans including 13 American soldiers.

Also read: Beijing’s support for Taliban is dividing Chinese social media

On India and Afghanistan

The appeal noted that the relationship between India and Afghanistan ran deep and was unbreakable.

The signatories asked the Indian government to engage with the Taliban, welcoming the news of India’s first official engagement with Taliban in Doha.

They further called for no discrimination on grounds of religion in providing shelter to Afghans who have been forced to leave the country.

The letter also noted that India should allow temporary stay to Afghan journalists, artists and civil society members who feel “threatened by the conditions in their country”.

It further said that no political party should be allowed to use the development in Afghanistan to communally polarise society for electoral gains.

Also read: India is adjusting to the new ground reality in Kabul, coming to terms with Naya Afghanistan

Appeal to Taliban

The letter also reached out to the Taliban and other political forces in Afghanistan, noting that the country needed an “inclusive government” that will facilitate “national reconciliation”.

It also said that the Taliban needed to ensure that no terrorist organisation has sanctuary in the country and that no terrorist or extremist activities targeting any other country takes place in Afghanistan.

The appeal contained a call for the safety and security of every Afghan irrespective of political background, ethnicity or ideology.

It said there should be a dignified return of all those who were forced to leave the country, specifically mentioning Hindus, Sikhs and non-Mulims.

The signatories also separately called for the safety, dignity and rights of women in Afghanistan.

To the international community, they said that no country in the region should be excluded from or isolated in bringing peace in Afghanistan.

“This requires India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran and other countries to evolve and implement a common strategy, in cooperation with the United Nations, USA, EU and other members of the international community.”

The appeal further asserted that providing humanitarian aid was the common responsibility of the international community and everybody should work together in rebuilding “Afghanistan’s war-damaged economy and creating livelihoods for its people”.

Also read: Tolo woman journalist who interviewed Taliban flees Afghanistan before US completes pullout


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