Underlining the “deep-rooted and civilizational ties” India and other Central Asian countries share with Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Sunday expressed concern about the ongoing humanitarian situation in the country and called for establishing a truly inclusive government, and preserving the rights of minorities.

Jaishankar is hosting the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue aimed to further strengthen ties between the member countries, with a particular focus on trade, connectivity and development cooperation. This Dialogue is seeing the participation from Foreign Ministers of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It assumes importance due to the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“Our concerns and objective in the country are similar to truly inclusive and representative government, fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, ensuring unhindered humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of the women children and minorities,” Jaishankar said in his opening remarks at the 3rd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue. “We must find ways of helping the people of Afghanistan,” he added.

Assuring India’s readiness to take diplomatic relations to the next level, Jaishankar said that India-Central Asia relations must focus on 4Cs — Commerce, Capacity enhancement, Connectivity and Contacts. The minister noted that this meeting comes amid a rapidly changing global, economic and political situation. “The Covid-19 situation resulted in an enormous setback to global health and the global economy. It has changed the way we imagine society and workplaces, supply changes and governance. It also highlighted the inadequacy of the existing multilateral structure to meet new and emerging threats,” he said.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our countries have sustained the momentum of our relations, the minister added. Since the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Jaishankar has met several of the participating ministers for talks focusing on the issues concerning the troubled country. On Saturday, Jaishankar hosted the Foreign Ministers of Central Asian countries to a welcome dinner.