New Delhi, April 16: US President Joe Biden’s announcement to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan is a big step that is going to take the war-ravaged country in a certain direction and it is important for the stakeholders to work together to ensure that the path it takes is the right one and the outcomes are good for the Afghan people, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday.
In an interactive session with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Afghan National Security Advisor (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib at the Raisina Dialogue, Jaishankar also said Afghanistan needs a “double peace”, that is peace within and peace around it.
He asserted that India will do whatever is in its power and influence in relationship with its other neighbours to protect the best interests of the Afghan people.
“We have always believed that this should be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process,” the external affairs minister said, adding “Afghanistan needs a double peace. It needs peace within and it needs peace around.”
In his remarks, Mohib said he spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and that a team will be put together in the next few days that will work with the US and the NATO on a transition plan.
He said the big picture point from Biden’s announcement of troops withdrawal is that the Taliban will have no reason to continue with its violence in Afghanistan anymore.
“The reasons why they continued (violence) are totally out of the picture and I think it is time for them to make real peace with the Afghan government and become part of the mainstream political society,” the Afghan NSA said.
Zarif said the announcement and commitment of the US to finally withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in a responsible way is a positive move and it has to be taken in the light of the realities of the region that the presence of foreign forces has never contributed to its peace and stability.
“The Taliban should start negotiating now with the government of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan and various other groups in the country. There should be a broad-based conversation right now,” the Iranian foreign minister said.
He said waiting for an eventuality will result in a vacuum and the Taliban wanting to fill that vacuum will be a disaster.
“That will be the recipe for a new war in Afghanistan and we in the region cannot tolerate it,” Zarif said.
In a major announcement, Biden on Wednesday said the US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan beginning May 1 and the process will be completed by September 11.
On Thursday, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan should not create a vacuum for “disruptors” to step in and that India wants a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the country.
There have been renewed global efforts to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan. Russia recently organised a conference in Moscow, where all major stakeholders were invited to brainstorm over ways to move forward in the peace process.
India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.
India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
Last month, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar visited India during which Jaishankar conveyed to him India’s long-term commitment towards a peaceful, sovereign and stable Afghanistan. (PTI)