For The First Time, India To Participate In ”Non-Official” Meet Which Includes Taliban Members
November 9th, 2018 / 1:15 PM
Image Credit: Wikimedia (Representational)
India is set to participate in a “non-official” level meet in Russia on November 9 on Afghanistan, where members of the Taliban are expected to be present. Reportedly, the Moscow-format meet on Afghan conflict is not going to be attended by the Afghan Foreign Ministry, however, Afghan High Peace Council — which talks to the Taliban on the process of reconciliation is expected to be there, reported The Indian Express.
India to send former diplomats
India has not participated in the multilateral meeting which involves the Taliban in the past, reported the daily. Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said, “Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level.” He further stated, “India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country.” He said that India maintains an “Afghan-led” reconciliation process.
Economic Times reported that India is likely to be represented by the head of MEA-run Indian Council for World Affairs, TCA Raghavan and Amar Sinha, a former Indian envoy to Kabul — both former diplomats are experts on the Afghan region and have been associated with the MEA.
Reportedly, this is the second time that Russia is trying to bring regional powers together in an attempt to bring stability and peace in the war-torn nation of Afghanistan. The meeting was supposed to take place on September 4, however, it was postponed at the last moment after the Afghan Government pulled out citing that the Taliban had “disrespected internationally-sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations”.
The Taliban delegate is expected to be present
Reportedly, Friday’s meet will see the participation of a five-member Taliban delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, the head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar. The USA and other regional stakeholders like Pakistan, China and Iran are also expected to be present.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement has said that while the delegation will participate in the meet, it does not mean that they are going to hold talks with anyone. He also added that the meeting will discuss an end to the American invasion and discuss regional peace.
The Afghan government’s rejection to participate in the meet on September 4 has been speculated to be a result of US pressure. However, this time around, the country seems to be handling both the US and Russia in an effective manner. The conflict in Afghanistan has also been caught up in a probable power struggle between USA and Russia.
Regional efforts for cooperation
Regional peace and stability has always been an issue in the South Asian context. Earlier, efforts have been made during numerous multi and bilateral talks to bring an end to the hostility that surrounds the Afghan region in particular. In 2017, India became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation founded in Shanghai. For India, its full membership means its cooperation on counter-terrorism as well as on issues relating to security in the region.
India’s move of sending former diplomats to a meet where the Taliban delegates are expected to be present perhaps reflects a delicate act of balance and a sign of our commitment towards peace.
Written by : Sromona Bhattacharyya
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