India welcomes deal between US and Taliban in Afghanistan


External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar (PTI photo)

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar (PTI photo)

In a guarded reaction to the peace deal between the US and the Taliban, India on Saturday said its consistent policy has been to support all opportunities that can bring peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and ensure end of terrorism.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India will continue to extend all support to the Afghanistan as a contiguous neighbour, in a clear reference that the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir belongs to India.

After months of negotiations, the US and Taliban signed a landmark peace deal in Qatari capital Doha on Saturday, effectively drawing curtains to the United States’ 18-year war in Afghanistan since 2001.

India’s Ambassador to Qatar P Kumaran was among a host of diplomats present at the ceremony where the deal was inked.

“India’s consistent policy is to support all opportunities that can bring peace, security and stability in Afghanistan; end violence; cut ties with international terrorism; and lead to a lasting political settlement through an Afghan led, Afghan owned and Afghan controlled process,” the MEA spokesperson said.

He was responding to signing of the US-Taliban deal in Doha and issuance of a joint declaration between the Afghan and US governments in Kabul. India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan as it has already spent around USD 2 billion in reconstruction of war-ravaged country.

“As a contiguous neighbour, India will continue to extend all support to the Government and people of Afghanistan in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future where the interest of all sections of Afghan society are protected,” Raveesh Kumar said.

Days before finalisation of the peace deal, India conveyed to the US that pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror networks operating from its soil must be kept up though Islamabad’s cooperation for peace in Afghanistan is crucial.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla travelled to Kabul on a two-day visit during which he conveyed to Afghan leadership India’s support for an independent, sovereign, democratic and inclusive Afghanistan.

He also conveyed to Afghanistan that sustainable peace in the country requires an end to externally sponsored terrorism, in a veiled reference to Pakistan’s support to terror groups in the war-ravaged country.

The foreign secretary held talks with President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Vice President-elect Amrullah Saleh and National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib.

He also met former president Hamid Karzai, acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haroon Chakhansur and acting Finance Minister Abdul Zadran. Separately, he interacted with a cross-section of Afghan leaders including politician, civil rights activists and academicians.

On the peace deal, the MEA spokesperson said India has noted that entire political spectrum in Afghanistan has welcomed it.

“We note that the entire political spectrum in Afghanistan, including the government, the democratic polity and civil society, has welcomed the opportunity and hope for peace and stability generated by these agreements,” Kumar said.

In his meetings with the Afghan leadership, the foreign secretary reiterated India’s commitment to enhance political, economic and development partnership between the two neighbours, the MEA said in a statement.

It said Shringla reiterated India’s consistent support for an independent, sovereign, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Afghanistan in which interests of all sections of Afghan society are preserved.

The foreign secretary also conveyed India’s support for enduring and inclusive peace and reconciliation which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

“He underscored that sustainable peace in Afghanistan requires an end to externally sponsored terrorism,” the MEA said.

Major powers such as the US, Russia and Iran have been reaching out to the Taliban as part of efforts to push the stalled Afghan peace process.

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.