India on Thursday said it has a steadfast policy to support a sovereign, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan and is in touch with various stakeholders within and outside the war-ravaged country, including regional and international partners.
The comments by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan in the Rajya Sabha came in a written reply to a question a day after India and the United States strongly pitched for an immediate intra-Afghan peace process to end violence in the country and find a political settlement.
Muraleedharan said India supports all peace initiatives leading towards a lasting political settlement through an inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing that a unilateral imposition of will by any party will not be democratic and cannot lead to stability, noting that India is closely monitoring the developments in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the US began withdrawing its troops on May 1. The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces from the country and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.
“As a contiguous neighbour and strategic partner, India has a steadfast policy to support a sovereign, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan, where the interests of all sections of the Afghan society, including women, children and minorities, are protected,” Muraleedharan said.
“India supports all peace initiatives leading towards a lasting political settlement through an inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process, which would lead to peace and stability in the region,” he added.
Muraleedharan also referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s online participation in the inaugural session of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha in September last year.
“The external affairs minister participated in the inaugural session of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha held in September 2020. The government is in touch with various stakeholders within and outside Afghanistan, including regional and international partners,” he said.
On September 12 last year, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations featuring various stakeholders, including the Afghan government and the Taliban, in Doha. Jaishankar joined it through a video-conference.
Bagchi said India and the world want to see an independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan, at peace with itself and its neighbours.
“Unilateral imposition of will by any party will not be democratic, cannot lead to stability and cannot provide legitimacy. Gains over the last two decades should be preserved,” he said.
The evolving situation in Afghanistan figured prominently in the talks between Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken here on Wednesday.
Blinken said there can be no military solution to the Afghan conflict and India has and will continue to make vital contributions to Afghanistan’s stability and development as a leader and a critical American partner in the region.
The US Secretary of State said both India and the US “largely” see the Afghan conflict in the same light, warning that an Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people and commits atrocities against them would become a “pariah state”.
India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested nearly USD 3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.
India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
It has also been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of the people of the country, including those from the minority community, for a prosperous and safe future.
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