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India hosts security dialogue on Afghanistan: NSAs from 7 nations including Russia meet Ajit Doval in Delhi

In its press release, MEA had said, “The high-level Dialogue will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan. It will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability.”

On November 10, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval chaired the “Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan” in New Delhi. National Security Advisers of Russia, Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan attended the event.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met the Security Advisors. In the meeting, Doval said that the developments in Afghanistan have important implications not only for the people living there but also for the neighbouring countries and the region.

Notably, an invitation to Afghanistan was not extended. India has had a healthy bilateral relationship with the erstwhile government of Afghanistan and after the Taliban takeover, it has not recognised the radical Islamist organisation as the governing body of the war-torn nation.

None of the 8 nations participating in the dialogue has recognised the Taliban ‘government’ yet, though Russia is still maintaining a functional embassy in Kabul.

During the meeting, Doval said, “We are meeting today to discuss the matters relating to Afghanistan. We all have been keenly watching the developments in that country. These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan but also for its neighbours and the region.”

Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that the NSA from the attending countries would review the security situation in the region following the recent developments in Afghanistan. Iran had also hosted dialogues in a similar format earlier. Iran started a dialogue in this format in 2018 and 2019. However, this is the first time seven nations are participating in the dialogue that is happening in India.

In its press release, MEA had said, “The high-level Dialogue will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan. It will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability.”

It further added that India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan. It said, “India has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. The forthcoming meeting is a step in that direction.”

Furthermore, it has to be kept in mind that the aim of the dialogue was not to form a formal security architecture for the region but to bring all participating countries on the same ground to determine the threat posed by the instability in Afghanistan.

A News18 report stated that the focus of the dialogue would remain around terrorism, radicalization and extremism, cross-border movement, the impact of drugs and trafficking on the region. Another major concern is the large number of weapons and equipment that US forces left behind in the country.

Regular similar meetings on Afghanistan by Security Advisors

The Security Chiefs and Advisors from Russia, Britain and the US have held similar meetings with NSA Doval in recent months. In September 2021, the British MI6 chief, the CIA chief and the Russian NSA had all visited India to hold dialogue with NSA Doval over the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country. CIA Chief Bill Burns arrived in India on September 7 to have a discussion on key security issues with Ajit Doval.

Following the visit by the US NSA, Russian NSA Nikolay Patrushev also visited New Delhi for talks with Indian NSA Doval. The conversation between Burns and Doval was centred on Terrorism from Pakistan and the situation that is unfolding in Afghanistan. Following his visit to India, Burns also visited Pakistan. Before the meetings, India had already shared notes on Taliban-ruled Afghanistan with the security chiefs from the US and UK.

Pakistan and China skipped NSA level dialogue in India

China and Pakistan were extended invitations to join the dialogue. Reportedly, China could not attend due to “scheduling issues”. Pakistan also refused to attend the dialogue that attracted sharp criticism from the Indian government. News18 quoted a source saying that the participating countries had a viewpoint that Pakistan is the actual problem for Afghanistan.

The Pakistan government’s refusal to attend the NSA-level talks in Delhi was another development in what is seen as the strategic isolation of the Islamic country in the region. After the Taliban takeover, Pakistan has been facing wide international criticism for providing strategic and tactical support to the Taliban. There is a growing consensus, especially in the USA that Pakistan has played a duplicitous role, taking US funds while helping the enemies of the USA in the 20-year war. Pakistan’s role in promoting instability and terrorism in the region has also been evident in recent months.

 

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