Reconciliation process should not confer power to insurgent groups, says External Affairs Ministry

India on Friday voiced its support to Afghanistan’s opposition to the Taliban having opened a political office in Doha and asserted that the reconciliation process in the war-torn country should not undermine its legitimate government or confer legitimacy to insurgent groups.

Kabul had on Tuesday backed out of peace talks scheduled with the Taliban.

“The reconciliation process should not seek to create equivalence between an internationally recognised Afghan government and insurgent groups, confer legitimacy to [these] groups or convey the impression [that there are] two competing state authorities [in] Afghanistan,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

The spokesperson said this move “could undermine the legitimate Afghan state, Afghan government and the political, social and economic progress witnessed in the nation over the past decade, to which the international community itself has contributed in great measure”.

He said India had followed the developments in Qatar and statements made by representatives of the Taliban office and others.

“These statements reflect some confusion about the name of the Qatar office, its structure, its political and legal status, and its objectives,” Mr. Akbaruddin said.“Our position is clear. The Government of India has always called for a broad-based Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and the internationally accepted red lines,” he said.

Mr. Akbaruddin stressed that such a process would necessarily recognise the centrality of the Government of Afghanistan in the process and involve all sections of the Afghan society, as also the insurgent groups — including the Taliban — who wish to join the mainstream.

He said India remained committed to supporting the Afghan government and people in accordance with the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, a reconciliation process that has the support of the government and the people of Afghanistan.

India has cautioned Afghanistan over peace talks with the Taliban and observed that the new initiative should not violate the “red lines” drawn up by the international community.