India has told the UN that militant groups enjoying “support and safe havens” to carry out terrorist activities in Afghanistan from across the borders cannot be allowed to negotiate from a “place of advantage” as the US and the Taliban are planning to meet for the next round of crucial peace talks in Qatar.
Calling for a need to end the activities of Pakistan-based terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, said that the “sanctuaries and safe havens” provided to terror networks have to be addressed for a genuine and sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
“As the way forward is chalked out, we cannot ignore that groups enjoying support and safe havens carry out violent and terrorist activities from across borders. They cannot be allowed to negotiate from a place of advantage,” he said during an open debate here on the situation in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
“The sanctuaries and safe havens provided to terror networks have to be addressed for genuine and sustainable peace. The terrorist activities of the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Da’esh, as well as Al Qaeda and its proscribed affiliates, including the LeT and JeM, need to end,” he said.
India and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of providing safe haven to the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and other militant groups, which carry out attacks in the two countries. The concluding communique of the Loya Jirga, convened by President Ashraf Ghani on April 29, called for a ceasefire, talks without pre-conditions, a Taliban office to be opened in Afghanistan, a responsible withdrawal of international forces, the formation of an inclusive negotiating team, continued support from the international community, and the preservation of human rights, particularly women’s rights, Akbaruddin said.
“Opportunities created by recent international efforts are welcome. However, we see that some may be driven by a sense of an urgency with timelines which are, perhaps, not intrinsic to the needs of the Afghan people,” he said, adding that the international community needs to be cognizant that it is the Afghan people who will have to implement and sustain these agreements. By all accounts, this is a crucial year for Afghanistan, he said.
“While Afghanistan gears up to have its fourth Presidential elections later this year, all of us need to be mindful of the gains that the Afghan people have made in the last 18 years,” Akbaruddin said. The dignity and sustainability of the gains made by the people of Afghanistan should be the paramount factor in determining what outcome will best suit the country and will be implementable in a sustainable and dignified manner, he said.
“Experience with the Hizb-e-Islami shows that a peace settlement within the rubric of the current Constitution is possible both politically and socially,” the Indian diplomat said. India supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace and reconciliation process which promotes and protects unity, sovereignty, democracy, inclusiveness and prosperity of Afghanistan, he said.
“India has age-old historical, cultural, civilizational and economic ties with Afghanistan. We are working closely with our Afghan partners in implementing developmental projects and will continue to do so,” he added. “Building reliable connectivity for land-locked Afghanistan is a key component of our partnership. We are mindful that all such projects respect state sovereignty and territorial integrity and are based on universally recognized international norms, transparency and principles of financial responsibility, ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards,” he said.
He stressed that it is with this spirit that India is engaged in various connectivity projects in the region, including the Chabahar Port project and the direct India-Afghanistan Air-Freight Corridor, which have been successfully operationalised. America’s special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held discussions with the Pakistani leadership, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, on the Afghan peace process in Islamabad earlier this month.
The US and the Taliban are planning to meet for the next round of crucial peace talks in Qatar. Afghan-born chief American negotiator Khalilzad has held six rounds of direct talks with Taliban envoys in the Qatari capital of Doha since the process began last fall to bring an end to what has now become the longest US overseas military intervention.