New Delhi: At the start of long-expected Intra-Afghan talks, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar asserted that it was New Delhi’s expectation that soil of Afghanistan not be used for anti-India activities.
The Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday witnessed the inaugural ceremony of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. India has sent a delegation of senior officials, led by the joint secretary in charge of the region, to take part in the proceedings.
In a video speech telecast at the ceremony, Jaishankar stated, “Our friendship with Afghanistan is strong and unshaken, we have always been good neighbours and will always be so. Our expectation is that the soil of Afghanistan should never be used for any anti-India activities”.
He also noted that the peace process must be “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled”.
Jaishankar also stated that the process “should promote the values of human rights and democracy that can foster development”. “The interests of the minorities, women and vulnerable must be ensured,” he asserted.
• Ensure interest of minorities, women and the vulnerable
• Effectively address violence across the country
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 12, 2020
The Indian foreign minister also said that the peace process in Afghanistan must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Jaishankar joined the inaugural session of the intra-Afghan negotiations through video conference.
“The friendship of our peoples is a testimony to our history with Afghanistan. No part of Afghanistan is untouched by our 400-plus development projects. Confident that this civilizational relationship will continue to grow,” he tweeted.
Jaishankar made reference to the millennia-old relationship between India and Afghanistan, which he said had withstood the test of time.
“The external affairs minister highlighted India’s role as a major development partner of Afghanistan with over 400 projects completed in all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan,” the MEA said in a statement.
It said Jaishankar wished for the success of the intra-Afghan negotiations in delivering to the people of Afghanistan what they have longed for – a peaceful and prosperous future in an independent and sovereign nation.
External Affairs Minister (EAM) participated in the inaugural session of the intra-Afghan negotiations held in Doha on 12 September 2020 via VTC. #afghanpeacetalks @MEAIndia @IndianDiplomacy https://t.co/nDTkekqHDl
— India in Qatar (@IndEmbDoha) September 12, 2020
Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed to release 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for the beginning of the long-awaited peace process aimed at ending nearly two-decades of conflict in the war-torn country.
India has been a major stakeholder in peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested US $ 2 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.
India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US inked a peace deal with the Taliban in February. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains on Washington’s 18-year war in the country.
The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001.
India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.
(With PTI inputs)