In Meeting With Afghanistan's Peace Council Chief, Modi Reiterates Support for Talks

On September 12, the Afghan government and the Taliban officially began the intra-Afghan talks in Qatar’s capital city, Doha.

New Delhi: During his talks with the visiting head of Afghanistan’s peace council Abdullah Abdullah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s support to the Afghan government’s efforts to initiate intra-Afghan talks.

Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah, who is on a five-day visit to India, met with the Indian prime minister on Thursday. India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval hosted a dinner for Abdullah on Wednesday night. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar will call on the visiting Afghan leader on Friday.

According to a read-out issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian prime miniter “reiterated India’s commitment towards sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and welcomed efforts towards a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan”.

On September 12, the Afghan government and the Taliban officially began the intra-Afghan talks in Qatar’s capital city, Doha. However, the talks are currently mired in negotiations over the framework, even as violence and bomb blasts continue in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government has been asking for an immediate ceasefire as the top priority for the talks, but the Taliban is yet to agree on this proposal.

Speaking at a think-tank later in the day, Abdullah said that the message from India during the meeting with Modi was that India wanted a peaceful, democratic Afghanistan, which doesn’t harbour any terrorist groups.

Also read: Afghan Peace Talks Open With Calls for Ceasefire, Women’s Rights

During the interaction with experts, he admitted that the pace in Doha was slow. “The time spent is necessary, but could have been better spent… but we are the beginning of it. Eventually, the people of Afghanistan and whole international community will see who is really committed, what has changed… I lay my hope in the optimistic way of looking at it.”

Regarding his recent visit to Pakistan, Abdullah said that he was “encouraged”. “We will have to work together. I don’t have any doubt that there is a lot of stake in a positive manner for every country.”

Abdullah also noted that there was another lesson from the last 40 years, which is that any group using violence will not serve any country’s legitimate interest. “They will turn any against any country any time.”

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that the remaining number of US troops in Afghanistan would be “home by Christmas”. However, US national security advisor Robert O’Brien said that the number of American troops would go down to 2,500 by early next year.

In New Delhi, Abdullah responded that it “takes a little bit of time to digest it (US President’s tweet) and find out the extent that it refers to the numbers, timing…” He also appended that there was “no doubt that in November, part of the withdrawal will be completed”.

He added there is a thinking among the Taliban that they may be able to assert their dominance once the US withdraws from Afghanistan. “They may be able to take advantage of situation temporarily, but will not be able to impose their rule on the people of Afghanistan. That’s the reality. There is one lesson in our recent history – that one side cannot impose their own will on the nation by force or violence.”