AS Special Representative for Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday held extensive talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval over the fast-evolving political situation in Afghanistan after the Trump administration struck a deal with the Taliban in February.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the US envoy laid importance to India’s crucial and continuing role in sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan while updating on the US peace and reconciliation efforts in the country. The Indian side emphasised that putting an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries is necessary for enduring and sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad arrived in Delhi as part of a three-nation tour of India, Qatar and Pakistan.In the talks, the US envoy was accompanied by Senior Director in the US National Security Council Lisa Curtis and US Ambassador to India Ken Juster.
“The US side recognized India’s constructive contribution in economic development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. They laid importance to India’s crucial and continuing role in sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan,” the MEA said in a statement.
The visit by Khalilzad assumes significance as it came in the midst of a nation-wide lockdown to fight COVID-19 in India.The MEA, in a statement, said both Jaishankar and Doval reiterated India’s continued support for strengthening peace, security, unity, democratic polity as well as protection of rights of all sections of the Afghan society, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs.
“India is deeply concerned at the upsurge in violence and supports the call for an immediate ceasefire and need to assist the people of Afghanistan in dealing with coronavirus pandemic,” it said.
The MEA said India remains engaged in extending humanitarian and medical supplies to Afghanistan to deal with the situation triggered by coronavirus pandemic.
“It was emphasised that putting an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries is necessary for enduring and sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it said.The US struck a peace deal with the Taliban on February 29, which provided for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains to Washington’s 18-year war in the country.
The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001. India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled.
India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate. Last month, India welcomed the decision by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to form a team for intra-Afghan negotiation.
India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future.
There have been global concerns over Pakistan’s support to Taliban and other terror groups operating in Afghanistan.
Days before inking of the peace deal between the US and Taliban, India conveyed to the Trump administration that pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror networks operating from its soil must be kept up.