India is hosting the third security dialogue on Afghanistan on Wednesday in Delhi, called “Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan”. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan, however, did not receive an invitation to the meeting. According to some sources, this is because India does not recognize the Taliban. China received an invitation but was unable to do so due to “timing issues”. However, it was Pakistan’s refusal to attend the dialogue that drew the strongest response from government sources.
They called it unhappy but not surprising that Pakistan refused to attend the dialogue. Another source said that the eight countries participating in the dialogue today believe that it is actually Pakistan that is the real problem for Afghanistan.
The source also said Pakistan is playing a double game with the Taliban, with whom their proximity is now common knowledge. The source said that although Pakistan has relations with the Taliban, India is not convinced that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, ISI, has no connection with the terrorist organization ISKP. The United States says the ISKP is opposed to the Taliban. And the ISKP has been responsible for several explosions since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. The first and most important being the explosion outside Hamid Karzai International Airport while the evacuation by the United States was still underway.
The dialogue should not produce a formal security architecture, according to the sources. However, participating countries are in tune with threats to instability in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover and will discuss what needs to be done in the future. The focus will be on terrorism, radicalization and extremism, cross-border movements, the impact of drugs and trafficking as well as threats from the large amount of weapons and equipment left behind by US forces. .
The massive humanitarian crisis that emerges from the cessation of aid to Afghanistan will also be addressed. According to some sources, humanitarian aid is intrinsically linked to security and stability. There are differences of opinion on how best to deliver aid in the circumstances changed with the Taliban takeover. Thus, the discussion could focus on how much aid to send, to whom should it be given and what is the best mechanism to provide that aid.
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Again, according to sources, for India, the fastest access to Afghanistan is through Pakistan. However, since Pakistan has blocked this access, they should question whether or not they are concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. If they really are, they should allow access.
In the past year, since the situation in Afghanistan began to change rapidly, India has been seen as a marginal player in the conversations despite its hefty investment of over $ 3 billion over the past 20 years in Afghanistan. With the Delhi Dialogue, India hopes to dispel this point of view. Sources believe the participation of Russia, Iran and crucial Central Asian countries is testament to the role India can play in Afghanistan even now.
They also highlight Russia’s constant engagement with India over the past few months over Afghanistan to strengthen the argument. Russian NSA Nikolai Patrushev had traveled to meet his counterpart Ajit Doval in India in early September. He is now back to attend the dialogue and also hold a bilateral meeting in almost two months.
It is important to note that Russia still has a functioning embassy in Kabul. It was one of the few countries that itself initially announced that they would not be closing their embassies. This was when other countries, including India, were evacuating Afghanistan in August. The Russian ambassador to Afghanistan had met the Taliban leaders a few days after the seizure of power and described the meeting as friendly. However, sources say that the eight participating countries were of the same opinion on the crucial issue of recognition of the Taliban – they have neither recognized nor legitimized the Taliban and do not consider the same in the immediate future.
A joint statement will be issued if all participating countries – Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – reach consensus. NSA Ajit Doval will also hold separate bilateral meetings on Wednesday, including with his Russian and Iranian counterparts after the morning’s dialogue.
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