India very important in dealing with Afghan crisis, says UK

Published - August 17, 2021 05:42 pm IST - London

Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, UK Government.

Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, UK Government.

“India as a key partner of the UK in the region and chair of the United Nations Sanctions Committee will have a very important role to play in dealing with the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan with the takeover of the Taliban,” the UK government said on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the way forward would involve the creation of some form of international "contact group" to ensure Afghanistan can never be used to launch terrorist attacks against the UK or its allies.

“I think it’s incredibly important in all of this to be working with a wider group of not just like-minded countries but partners that can exercise maximum influence. And that will mean, difficult as it is, to engage with China and Russia as well as our closer partners like India,” Mr. Raab told the BBC.

The senior Cabinet minister, who faced some criticism for going ahead with his summer vacation plans as the Afghan capital of Kabul fell over the weekend, returned to London on Monday ahead of an emergency Parliament session on Wednesday.

He admitted that the international community was “caught off guard” and that the scale of the advances of the Taliban “took us all by surprise”.

“Now it is about how we use every lever we have at our disposal to try and moderate the influence of the regime that comes in.

"The crucial thing will be working in the UN Security Council as a permanent member, using our G7 presidency, using not just with our NATO allies but with the key neighbouring and regional players and that will include difficult partners – from China and Russia, to Pakistan; India is going to be very important in this,” said Mr. Raab.

In reference to actions planned in dealing with the Taliban regime, he added: “Through concerted coordination on things like sanctions. India is very important in the UN, it chairs the Sanctions Committee.

“China is a difficult partner for the UK but we have a common interest as permanent members of the Security Council in working together on Afghanistan.” The minister also said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel are working on a bespoke resettlement scheme for those most in need in Afghanistan. He indicated that the programme will be focussed on helping the most vulnerable and women and girls in particular.

Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after becoming a target due to her campaigning for girls' education, has called on countries around the world to "open their borders" to Afghan refugees.

Johnson is also this week attempting to use the UK's presidency of the G7 to push for a coordinated international response to the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, following the rapid collapse of the country's Western-backed government since the US troop withdrawal from the region.

He has held calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of this focus and Downing Street said calls with other world leaders is on his schedule.

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