By: The Kabul Times
New Delhi: The world knows what Pakistan has brought to Afghanistan, India said on Thursday in a terse response to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s comments that its presence in the war-ravaged country is larger than it ought to be.
“We firmly believe that it is for the Afghan people to decide their partners and the size of that partnership. India has brought electricity, dams, schools, health clinics, roads and community projects to Afghanistan,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
“The world knows what Pakistan has brought to Afghanistan,” he said at a media briefing when asked about Qureshi’s comments.
It is widely believed that the Pakistani security establishment has been supporting several terror groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani Network which are active in Afghanistan.
To a separate question, Bagchi said India supports all peace initiatives in Afghanistan and remained in touch with various stakeholders including regional countries.
He was replying to a bunch of questions on the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and comments by a senior Qatari diplomat on Monday that he believed India was reaching out to the Taliban as the group could be a key component in the future.
“I think our perspective on Afghanistan has been enunciated on various occasions. India supports all peace initiatives and has a long term commitment towards development and reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Bagchi said.
“In this context, we remain in touch with various stakeholders, including regional countries,” he said.
The spokesperson also referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s statement on Afghanistan at the UN Security Council, noting that it laid out India’s concern at the upsurge in violence as well as its vision for the future of that country.
In a virtual address at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Jaishankar said the intra-Afghan talks have not resulted in a reduction of violence in Afghanistan and called for immediate dismantling of terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries for enduring peace in that country.
The minister said India continues to stand with Afghanistan in ensuring restoration of normalcy through a legitimate democratic process that is essential for the long-term stability of Afghanistan and the region.
The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks in the Qatari capital city Doha to end 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country. Qatar has been playing a role in the Afghan peace process.
“I understand that there has been a quiet visit by Indian officials…to speak with the Talibans. Why? Because not everybody is believing that the Taliban will dominate and take over, because Taliban is a key component of, or should be or is going to be a key component of the future of Afghanistan,” said Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, Qatar’s envoy for counter-terrorism and conflict resolution.
He made the remarks while replying to a question during a virtual discussion on the theme “Looking towards peace in Afghanistan after the US-NATO withdrawal.”
Recently, Jaishankar made two stop-overs in Doha during his visits to Kuwait and Kenya.
In his talks with senior Qatari leaders in Doha, the issue of Afghanistan was discussed as the Gulf country is involved in the Afghan peace process. Jaishankar also held talks on the issue with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in the Qatari capital.