The Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan held here on Wednesday called for “urgent humanitarian assistance” to the Afghan people. The call was given in the meeting chaired by the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who urged close cooperation and consultation among the regional countries over the Afghan scenario. Russian representative Nikolai P. Patrushev said multiple dialogue mechanisms “should not complicate” the unfolding situation in the Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
A joint statement titled the ‘Delhi Declaration’ issued after the meeting called for “collective cooperation” against terrorism and drug trafficking in the region and “expressed concern over the deteriorating socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and underlined the need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan”. The statement emphasised that the assistance should be provided in an “unimpeded, direct and assured manner” and that the help should be distributed across the country in a “non-discriminatory manner across all sections of the Afghan society”.
“This is the third meeting of the process that was initiated by Iran in 2018. We had the second meeting there as well. We are grateful to Iran for that. We are meeting today to discuss matters related to Afghanistan. These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan but also for its neighbours and the region. This is a time for close consultation amongst us and greater cooperation, interaction and coordination among the regional countries,” said Mr. Doval, initiating the discussion among heads of the national security establishments of all the Central Asian countries, and Russia and Iran.
Pakistan and China too were invited to participate in the consultation but both stayed away. The meeting, however, did not have any representation from the erstwhile Afghan government or the Taliban, which has not been recognised by New Delhi as a legitimate political player in Afghanistan. A team headed by Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban’s foreign minister, will participate in a regional dialogue to be held in Islamabad on Thursday.
This is the first meeting of the security heads of the participating countries that India has hosted since the Taliban took power in August after dislodging the government of President Ashraf Ghani. Mr. Doval was accompanied at the meeting by Samant Goel, head of the Research and Analysis Wing; Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla; and other Indian diplomats who have been a part of Afghanistan-related initiatives in recent months.
Addressing the meeting after Mr. Doval, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, said there is a need to establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan. “The solution comes only through the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups,” said Mr. Shamkhani, highlighting that there is a need to find a “force” within the Afghan society that can create an inclusive government.
Karim Massimov, Chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, highlighted the many obstacles that prevent the formation of an “effective government” in Afghanistan. “We are strongly concerned with the appearance of the Central Asian fighters [in Afghanistan]. It’s necessary to increase humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people. It is highly important to increase concrete actions,” said Mr. Massimov.
Addressing the meeting, Kyrgyz Republic’s Marat Imankulov raised the possibility of terrorism spreading from the territory of Afghanistan and said, “We need to extend help to the Afghan people.” Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai P. Patrushev, praised the role of various regional dialogue mechanisms that have been framed to deal with the political situation in Afghanistan. However, he appeared to favour, the Moscow consultation, which he praised for “broad participation” by all sides.
“Such dialogue mechanisms should not complicate the work of each other but rather complement each other. The Moscow format of consultation on Afghanistan retains its important potential because of the broad participation of the stakeholders,” said Mr. Patrushev, asking for stability in the region around Afghanistan.