India has played a key role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan over the years, spending more than USD three billion in the last two decades on people-centric projects in the country with even the Taliban acknowledging New Delhi’s contribution. Whether it is G20 Summit, BRICS or bilateral discussion, India has been a key participant regarding the issue of Afghanistan. Seven security czars from Russia, Iran and all five Central Asian countries will be landing in Delhi on Tuesday to attend first of its kind regional dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by India.
National Security Advisers of five central Asian countries – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan besides Russia and Iran – will attend the Delhi meet on Afghanistan. The meeting will be chaired by India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Earlier, Iran had hosted dialogues in a similar format. This is a continuation of the format started by Iran in 2018 and 2019, however, this time dialogue will see the highest participation of seven nations. Following the format, India had invited Pakistan and China. However, on the expected line both declined. China cited scheduling issues and has conveyed that it is open for dialogue with India on Afghanistan at multilateral and bilateral levels. China attended previous meetings hosted by Iran and more recently BRICS meet as well Officials here feel that Pakistan never wanted to be part of the solution, in fact, it is well acknowledged that it is the source of the problem In Afghanistan. It is no secret to the world that Pakistan provides backing to Taliban regional shuras over the years and Pakistan notorious spy agency –Inter-Services Intelligence– with Haqqani’s and ISIS Khorasan are not hidden. Also, Pakistan has emerged as a key obstruction to the flow of humanitarian aid to Afghans. India stands ready to supply much-needed aid but Pakistan is not allowing access to landlocked Afghanistan. Pakistan did not attend any of the meetings organised in this format hosted by Iran and now it has also declined India’s invitation.
India, along with seven other countries participating in the Delhi dialogue, will discuss in detail terror threats emanating from within Afghanistan and around it, extremism and radicalisation is also key concern among many participants, they feel many hotheads in their countries may get influenced and there may be export or spillover of ideology into their societies, drug trafficking, use of huge weapons left by the United States is another cause of concern.
More than the above factors ‘uncertainty’ of what will happen next is also a common point of discussion. Interestingly, Pakistan is oblivious to the above issues and continues to engage with the Taliban government. Iran, Russia and all Central Asian countries participating in dialogue here are far from recognising or legitimising the Taliban regime, sources told ANI that it is not even on their agenda to recognise the Taliban as they see no change in the Taliban of 90s and today. All participating countries have common ground and concern vis-a-vis representation of minorities, inclusiveness, women rights and human rights in Afghanistan. Russia and Iran and to that matter some countries in Central Asia have been engaging with the Taliban but the red lines are clear and also they strongly regard India as a key stakeholder in the region.
There is unanimity and common ground which will be reflected during dialogue, this is not any protocol-driven dialogue, it is a special dialogue with a practical outlook, the big point is will Kabul read the writing on the wall.