Political change in Afghanistan not inclusive: Modi

SCO member-countries should ensure that Afghanistan territory is not used to export terrorism, he says

September 17, 2021 12:47 pm | Updated September 18, 2021 10:21 am IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the SCO summit virtually, in New Delhi on September 17, 2021. Twitter/@narendramodi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the SCO summit virtually, in New Delhi on September 17, 2021. Twitter/@narendramodi

The political change in Afghanistan did not lead to an inclusive system and the process was not conducted through negotiation, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first extensive comments since the Taliban overthrew the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

In a speech at the Afghanistan-themed outreach summit between the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), he stated that the neighbours of Afghanistan would be seriously impacted by the developments in that country.

“The first issue is that the change of authority in Afghanistan was not inclusive and this happened without negotiation. This raises questions on the prospects of recognition of the new system. Representation of all sections of Afghans, including women and the minorities, is important. And that is why it is necessary that the global community should think carefully and collectively while deciding on the legitimacy of the new political system in Afghanistan,” he observed in Hindi.

He expressed India’s support for the “central role” of the United Nations in the global deliberation regarding the current system in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has declared an “interim government” in Kabul but India has not yet recognised that set-up.

Mr Modi said the SCO members have been dealing with terrorism and that was why they should ensure that the territory of Afghanistan was not used to export terrorism. “Terrorist and extremist ideologies will receive encouragement if Afghanistan continues to remain unstable and in the grip of fundamentalist forces.”

He highlighted that a “large number of advanced weapons” were left behind by western powers in Afghanistan, and cautioned that the country could emerge as the source of uncontrolled flow of drugs, illegal weapons and human trafficking.

To deal with the fallout of the volatile situation in Afghanistan, he urged the SCO member-countries to frame a “code of conduct” to stop terror financing and cross-border terrorism. “The SCO member-countries should adopt strong and common norms to deal with the matter. These norms can be used in future for global anti-terror cooperation and can form a template for that,” he pointed out.

Fight against radicalisation

Earlier, addressing the 21st meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), he stated that the fight against radicalisation was necessary for increasing trust among the SCO member-countries.

Speaking after Mr. Modi, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to “outstanding disputes” that should be resolved peacefully, and urged the Taliban to fulfil its pledge of building an inclusive government in Kabul.

Mr. Modi, who was addressing the meeting in the virtual format, said: “The biggest challenges in this region are related to peace, security and trust deficit and the main reason behind these challenges lies in the increasing radicalisation. The recent developments in Afghanistan have highlighted the challenge. The SCO should take the initiative to counter this problem”.

The meeting, being hosted by Tajikistan, also saw the inclusion of Iran as a new member of the SCO. Mr. Modi welcomed the move. He commended the step to include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new dialogue partners of the regional organisation.


Importance of 'moderate Islam'

The Prime Minister stressed upon the importance of moderate Islam in Central Asia and urged the member- countries to counter religious extremism and radicalisation. “Historically, this region has been a fortress of progressive and moderate cultural traditions. Sufi order prospered here for centuries. This tradition grew here and was spread across the world. Based on this historic heritage of Central Asia, the SCO should develop a common template to fight radicalisation and extremism,” he asserted. Radicalisation and extremism has been a barrier to development in the region and urged the member-countries to promote “rational thinking”.

Mr. Modi praised the counter-terror work that had been carried out by the RATS mechanism of the SCO. He remarked that India expected to receive cooperation from the SCO members on the suggestions that it had made at the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which is headquartered in Tashkent.

Also read: Afghanistan can’t be ‘controlled from outside’: Pak PM Khan at SCO summit

Greets‘all Tajik people’

Mr. Modi thanked Tajikistan President Imomali Rahmon for hosting the summit in the challenging circumstances and greeted “all Tajik people”.

India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar and the International North-South Corridor was indicative of its commitment to increasing the connectivity with the Central Asian region. “We believe the landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with the huge market of India,” he added.

Jaishankar in Dushanbe

The ongoing SCO meeting is being attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. He is expected to hold important discussions on Afghanistan with the representatives of the member-countries.

The situation in Afghanistan is far from stabilising after a month of takeover by the Taliban, which spent most of the post-takeover days fighting off a challenge from the Tajik fighters in the Panjshir Valley.

Pak hit by terror: Khan

Mr. Imran Khan reiterated that his country suffered from the problem of terrorism for decades. “For decades, Pakistan has suffered from terrorism that was planned, supported, financed and orchestrated by state entities from across our border.”

The Taliban must fulfil the promise of building an inclusive government. “This is vital for Afghanistan’s stability. Also, it is important to ensure respect for the rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorists,” he remarked

In an indirect reference to India’s abrogation of Article 370, he stated “unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of Security Council resolutions” did not help regional peace and security. “Settlement of outstanding disputes is a necessary condition for peace, and indispensable for creating an environment of cooperation,” he added.

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