India made it clear that any solution to the Afghanistan problem would have to take place under the leadership of its President Hamid Karzai. A settlement with Taliban would be possible only if it abjured violence and accepted the Afghan Constitution, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna told newspersons while returning to the country after his maiden visit to the Gulf region.
India, said Mr. Krishna, was conscious that the Taliban is part of the terrorist structure in Afghanistan. But with a military solution not in sight, the focus must be on the political process which “will have to be Afghan driven and Afghanistan led.”
Mr. Krishna, who represented India at the international conference on Afghanistan held in London last week, said the political process will have to deal with the Taliban and other terrorist organisations. Both India and Mr. Karzai, as also most participants at the London meeting, felt that any rapprochement will be possible if these groups gave up violence and accepted the Afghan Constitution.
India also believes that these forces would have to go along with the democratic forces under the leadership of Mr. Karzai. “Then perhaps Afghanistan can deal with these elements and they can be brought into the mainstream of Afghan political process,’’ he added.
Giving Australia a 'reasonable try'
On Australia, the Minister felt the problems facing Indians were surmountable and could be tackled. He urged the high level committee set up by Australia to be given a “reasonable try” to address concerns about violence against Indians studying and living there.
Importance of ethnic minorities
Congratulating the people of Sri Lanka on the country's 62nd Independence Day, Mr. Krishna hoped its President Mahinda Rajapaksa would utilise the mandate in his favour to bring about a settlement with all ethnic minorities.
Mr. Krishna pointed out that India had very friendly ties with Sri Lanka even during its worst crises when the fight was on between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the “lawfully established Government of Sri Lanka’’. He drew attention to the congratulatory messages sent by the President and Prime Minister following Mr. Rajapaksa’s victory to underline India’s constructive approach.
“We sincerely hope that Mr. Rajapaksa will utilise the mandate to bring abut a settlement with all ethnic minorities so that a new beginning and a new hope can be initiated in Sri Lanka. India conveys its good wishes to Sri Lanka,’’ he added.