Sunday, October 2, 2022

India ready to stand by Afghans as in past: S Jaishankar

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India has said that as an immediate neighbour it is watching the situation in Afghanistan very closely and it is ready to stand by Afghans. It has called for unhindered, unrestricted, direct access and non-discriminatory distribution of humanitarian assistance for all sections of Afghan society. India said the normalization of regular commercial operations at Kabul airport would help accelerate assistance to Afghanistan.

Speaking at the UN high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the issue of travel and safe passage that can emerge as an obstacle to humanitarian assistance should be immediately sorted out.

“Those who wish to travel into and out of Afghanistan should be granted such facility without obstruction. The normalization of regular commercial operations of Kabul airport would not only assist in that regard but then become the basis for a regular flow of relief material and this would also accelerate activities that would complement domestic relief measures,” he said.

The minister, who spoke through video conference, also referred to a recent UNDP report which said that Afghanistan teeters on the brink of universal poverty and as much as 97 per cent of the population is at risk of sinking below the poverty line unless a response to the country’s political and economic crises is urgently launched.

The report also said that a combination of factors could cause the baseline poverty rate, now at 72 per cent, to balloon in Afghanistan. Jaishankar said such a situation would have catastrophic consequences not only in the collective fight against poverty but also in regional stability

India said it has always supported the multilateral role of the United Nations and it is the only body that has the capacity to monitor that distribution of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan is done in a non-discriminatory manner

“Today I wish to underline that in the face of grave emerging situation, India is willing to standby the Afghan people just as in the past. To ensure it happens effectively, we believe that the international community must come together to create the best possible enabling environment. Among the challenges that the current situation poses is that of efficient logistics. It is, therefore, essential that humanitarian assistance providers are accorded unimpeded, unrestricted and direct access to Afghanistan,” Jaishankar said.

“Once relief material reaches that country, the world will naturally expect a non-discriminatory distribution across all sections of Afghan Society. Only the United Nations has the capacity to monitor such endeavour and reassure donors. As the picture becomes clearer in respect of legitimate concerns, I am confident that the world will step forward and assist the Afghan people in this hour of need,” he added.

India also said that UN resolution 2593 should drive the approach of the international community in the coming days in this critical and challenging phase of Afghanistan. Resolution 2593 was adopted by UNSC under the presidency of India on August 30, 2021, with Russia and China abstaining from voting.

It demands that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists.

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