The Indian government has endorsed a joint statement following the Moscow Format meeting on Afghanistan, which condemns the military infrastructure facilities built by other nations in that country. The Deccan Era has learned that while Russia and Pakistan perceive this line as a reference to the United States, Delhi sees it as a reference to Pakistan’s presence there as a military presence.
According to the joint statement, which was signed off by Pakistan and was issued following the meeting hosted by Russia in Moscow on November 16, it is unacceptable for third countries to place military infrastructure facilities in Afghanistan and adjacent states.
Aside from Russia, India, and Pakistan, China, Iran, and several of Afghanistan’s neighbours in Central Asia attended the meeting.
Furthermore, the participants were “convinced” that “forces responsible for the 20-year military presence” in Afghanistan should shoulder the “main financial burden” for the reconstruction of its economy following the conflict without intervening in its internal affairs.
Nevertheless, the report specifies that “most delegations” agreed to make a call for compensation for the damage caused to Afghan people during US-NATO presence in the country. According to our sources, India may have opted out of this call.
About the Taliban regime, the statement stated, “The Afghan authorities have been urged to strengthen their efforts to ensure citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms.” In addition, the sides agreed that equal access to justice and education should be provided to all ethnic groups, including minorities, women and children.”
The joint statement referred to the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue in November last year. It 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”.
Special representatives and senior officials from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan attended the Moscow meeting. 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 assist, intra-Afghan talks, formation of an inclusive and representative government, efforts to counter threats of terrorism and ensuring regional security.”
The joint statement 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 fulfil 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, to ensure that Afghanistan would never again serve as a breeding ground, 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 significant ethnopolitical 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 host Afghan refugees.
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