In a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Jaishankar said that who governs the war-torn country has a “legitimacy aspect” that cannot and should not be ignored.
TOI also learnt Friday that Afghanistan’s chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation who is responsible for peace talks with the Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah, paid a secret visit to India last week. It was apparently a “personal visit” but still significant as it came at a time Afghanistan is faced with a dangerous security situation because of the US troop withdrawal.
Jaishankar’s remarks came on a day the Taliban claimed that it now controlled over 85 percent of Afghan territory. While India is reported to have had some contact with the Taliban at the level of security officials, the government has emphatically denied that the foreign minister himself had any engagement with the armed group. The Taliban, buoyed by the US withdrawal, has assured foreign missions in Afghanistan that they won’t face any security issue but India remains concerned about ISI‘s links with Taliban insurgents.
“In many cases, where is volatility in society, we leave the people of that country to work it out. But Afghanistan is a different case,” Jaishankar said at a joint press conference after the meeting.
“For more than 30 years, there have been international conferences, there have been groups and formats to discuss how to stabilize and bring about peace in Afghanistan and the reason is because it has proven implications for regional security and stability. So 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,” Jaishankar added.
The government’s main concern, as expressed by NSA Ajit Doval during his visit to Kabul earlier this year, remains the possible use of Afghan soil by terror groups based in Pakistan to perpetrate violence against India. The disclosure earlier this year by Afghanistan authorities that the entire Taliban leadership is based in Pakistan and that no decision is being taken by the Taliban negotiators without their advice in the peace process added to the concerns.
Afghanistan ambassador to India Farid Mamundzay reiterated concerns over what he called the presence of shuras in Pakistan. “Their families still live there. They have the support and infrastructure currently present in Pakistan, we would want to see that changed,” he said.
The Afghanistan government had said earlier in a statement that the presence of Taliban leadership posed a serious challenge to the goal of achieving sustainable peace as closure of training camps in Pakistan was vital for peaceful resolution of the Afghanistan situation.
“We believe that the immediate need of the day is really a reduction in violence and if we have to see peace within Afghanistan and around Afghanistan, it’s important for India and Russia to work together and ensure that much of the progress that we’ve seen in economic, social and democratic terms are maintained,” said Jaishankar after his meeting with Lavrov.