United Nations: India has given a qualified nod to Afghanistan's reconciliation moves towards the Taliban, provided it is “transparent, led by the Afghan government” and respects the nation's Constitution.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji said on Thursday, “Reconciliation of members of the erstwhile Taliban regime is an integral part of the efforts of national reconciliation that are being undertaken by the government of Afghanistan.”
But, he added, “A successful national reconciliation programme must be transparent, led by the Afghan government and owned by the Afghan people, respecting the Afghan constitution and the international red lines. This would require sincere cooperation of all parties concerned.”
Speaking at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) debate on the situation in Afghanistan, Mukerji noted fragility of the nation despite its resilience because of the “evil scourge of terrorism and extremism” that are nurtured by “support from beyond Afghanistan, and also access resources from transnational terrorist and criminal networks.”
“It is only if the support stops and the linkages with networks are broken,” Mukerji said, “that the scourge of terrorism will be defeated.”
As Afghanistan's new National Unity government proceeds with the task of rebuilding the country, he offered the support of “Afghanistan's first strategic partner”, India. With budgets of traditional donors strained and “aid fatigue” setting in, he said the private sector held the key to the nation's economic transformation.
But private sector businesses that wanted to enter the Afghan market were hampered by the lack of connections to sea ports and to fast-growing Asian regions, he said.
To remedy this, New Delhi has been holding discussions with Kabul and Tehran on collaborating on a project to develop Iran's Chahbahar port that could offer Afghanistan a sea link and boost the economic reconstruction in its western region.
Chahbahar in southeastern Iran is that country's only major port that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz. It is about 900 km from Zaranj and an Indian-built road links it to highways that connect to major cities. Last month, the Indian Cabinet approved plans for two public sector corporations to float a company to develop the Chahbahar port.
At UNGA, both Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, brought up the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI) project, which is to bring natural gas from the Central Asian Turkmenistan to India. On Thursday, the representatives of the four nations said they decided to start work on the USD 10 billion project next year.