As National Security Advisors of seven countries met here on Wednesday, their opening statements — which lasted for around 20 minutes — gave a window to how they framed their concerns and positions with respect to Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
The meeting, chaired by NSA Ajit Doval, was attended by Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani (Iran), Nikolai P Patrushev (Russia), Karim Massimov (Kazakhstan), Marat Mukanovich Imankulov (Kyrgyzstan), Nasrullo Rahmatjon Mahmudzoda (Tajikistan), Charymyrat Kakalyyevvich Amavov (Turkmenistan) and Victor Makhmudov (Uzbekistan).
The NSAs of Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were vocal about their concerns on “terrorism” as they mentioned the issue clearly in their opening statements. Russian NSA Patrushev talked about the “challenges and threats emanating from the Afghan territory”.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan’s NSAs did not mention the word terrorism at all in their opening statements.
Iranian NSA Shamkhani said India has a “great role in Afghanistan”. He thanked not just the countries which attended the meeting, but also those who were invited but couldn’t make it — a reference to Pakistan and China. He was the only one to do so.
Iran was also the most vocal about the situation in Afghanistan, as Shamkhani said there are issues that have “destroyed Afghanistan”, and the difficulties, which have been brought about in the past 20 years.
Today, he said, Afghanistan is “involved in terrorism, poverty and misery, unfortunately”. Basically, in Afghanistan, he said, there is “just crisis, the crisis of migration and refugees”. He was referring to the thousands of Afghan refugees, especially from Hazara minorities, who go to Iran.
Shamkhani pressed on the issue of “inclusive government”, as he said that the solution will come “only through formation of an inclusive government with the positive participation of all ethnic groups”.
Russian NSA Patrushev, who listed various diplomatic processes on Afghanistan, including the special G-20 summit session, said the Moscow format “retains its important potential”. He cautioned, “We are also convinced that such dialogue mechanisms should not duplicate work of each other, but rather complement each other.” Doval took note of the suggestion, after Patrushev spoke.
The Russian NSA talked about “speediest restoration of long-lasting peace” in Afghanistan and said this meeting will help to discuss “practical measures to counter challenges and threats emanating from the Afghan territory”.
He was the only NSA to mention dialogue with the Taliban. In the October 20 Moscow talks, he said, they laid a “good foundation” to determine the position of our countries regarding the development of the “dialogue with the Taliban”, as well as to “practically coordinate our efforts, efforts of all stakeholders of the region”.
“I expect today we will be able to take another step forward in elaborating common measures of ensuring national security and maintaining regional stability,” he said.
Tajikistan’s NSA Mahmudzoda flagged “concern about the long border with Afghanistan”, which was “complicated” and the current situation “creates extra risk and the possibility for growth of drug trafficking, terrorism and criminality”.
He said that Afghanistan may face a “real human humanitarian catastrophe especially considering the upcoming winter so we need to find the solution to provide all the necessities for the population of Afghanistan”. He, along with Kazakhstan’s NSA, were the most articulate in conveying the urgency of the situation in Afghanistan.
Kazakh NSA Massimov said the social and economic situation of the Afghans is “deteriorating”, and the country is facing a “humanitarian crisis”. “It’s necessary to increase the humanitarian assistance for Afghan people. Stabilisation of Afghanistan demands the efforts of the whole international community. It is highly important to begin concrete actions,” he said.
He also flagged the issue of terrorism: “Kazakhstan monitors with high attention, the threat, challenges that are coming from Afghanistan… terrorists organisations are intensifying their activities. We are strongly concerned with the operations of the Central Asian fighters,” he said.
Kyrgyz NSA Imankulov also called it a “very difficult problem in our region” and mentioned the “activity of terrorist organisations in our region”. He also advocated “joint activities towards fighting extremism and terrorism”, as well as “help should be extended to the people of Afghanistan”
Turkmenistan’s NSA Amavov said “what happened in a very short time period” in Afghanistan, they are required to work together “to create peace in this region”.
Uzbek NSA Makhmudov said Afghanistan is in a very “difficult situation” and they have to find some possible solutions to bring peace in Afghanistan and the region.