Expressing concern over the spiralling violence in Afghanistan, India Friday said the “legitimacy aspect” of who should rule the war-torn country should not be ignored and called for an immediate reduction in the conflict.
“Of course we are concerned about the direction of events in Afghanistan,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Moscow at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. “The point right now we stress is that we must see a reduction in violence. Violence cannot be the solution for the situation in Afghanistan.”
His remarks came in the midst of Taliban militants seizing dozens of districts over the course of recent weeks. They are now thought to control about a third of the country, ahead of the withdrawal of US and Western troops from Afghanistan by September 11.
As part of the deal with the Taliban, the US and its NATO allies have agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants that they would prevent extremist groups from operating in areas they control.
“At the end of the day, who governs Afghanistan has a legitimacy aspect of it. I think that is something which cannot and should not be ignored,” said Jaishankar, who is in Russia on a three-day visit.
“For more than 30 years now, there have been international conferences, there have been groups, there have been formats to discuss how to stabilise and bring about peace in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the reason is because it has proven implications for regional security and regional stability.
“If we have to seek peace within Afghanistan and around, it’s important for India and Russia to work together to ensure that much of the progress (made) in economic, social terms is maintained. We are committed to an independent, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan,” the External Affairs Minister said.
India, a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, has been calling for a national peace and reconciliation process which is “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled”.
The country has been keenly following the evolving political situation after Washington signed the peace deal with the Taliban which effectively draws curtains on the 18-year-long war in the country.
India has said it is committed to steadfastly supporting Afghanistan during its transition. Its development partnership of $3 billion, including more than 550 community development projects covering all 34 provinces, is aimed at making Afghanistan a self-sustaining nation.