Afghanistan peace process shouldn’t lead to anyterrorist relocation: India

NEW DELHI: In the midst of renewed momentum in peace initiatives in Afghanistan, India Thursday said care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India, as a close neighbour and important stakeholder in Afghanistan, was closely monitoring developments relating to peace and reconciliation process in the country.

He said India on Friday will exchange views with the Special Representative from Germany who is responsible for intra-Afghan dialogue.

Kumar was replying to a question on Afghan peace process during a weekly media briefing.

“We believe that all initiatives and processes must include all sections of the Afghan society, including the legitimately elected government,” he said.

“Any process should respect the constitutional legacy and political mandate and should not lead to any ungoverned spaces where terrorist and their proxies can relocate,” Kumar added.

He said the US briefed India on the peace initiative from time to time.

The US has been holding talks with the Taliban in Qatari capital Doha to hammer out a deal to bring lasting peace and stability in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“We are also in regular consultations with other active players like all political forces in Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China on this issue,” he said.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled.

“This has been communicated to all our partners and we are quite confident that our points of view will be part of any peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” Kumar said.

In May, US Special Representative for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad visited India and held consultations with Indian government officials.

In March, India conveyed to the US that it should not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan without putting in place an elected “political structure” to govern the country.

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 been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

In a significant move, India had sent two former diplomats in “non-official” capacity to a conference on Afghan peace process in Moscow last November which was attended by a high-level Taliban delegation.

The conference organised by Russia was attended by representatives of Afghanistan as well as from several other countries, including the US, Pakistan and China.