The Indian government highlighted Pakistan ISI’s links with India-focused terror groups in Afghanistan, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, and stressed Islamabad’s ties with Taliban and other international terror groups during a high-level inter-government dialogue with Russia on the Afghan situation, reported Times of India.
Official sources said the meeting saw substantive exchanges, with both sides expressing similar views on most issues including terrorism and the need for Taliban to fulfil its commitments.
National security adviser Ajit Doval is learned to have told his counterpart Nikolay Patrushev that Pakistan has the “special responsibility” of ensuring that Afghanistan’s soil was not used to spread terrorism and carry out anti-India activities. India has repeatedly said in the past few weeks that its primary objective for now is to ensure that Pakistan-based terror groups don’t use Afghan territory to mount attacks against others.
According to Russia, the two sides discussed “humanitarian and migration problems” in Afghanistan, as well as prospects for Russian-Indian joint efforts aimed at creating conditions for launching a peaceful settlement process on the basis of an intra-Afghan dialogue. “In addition, they agreed to coordinate the approaches of Russia and India in multilateral formats on the Afghan settlement,” said the Russian statement.
The meeting on Afghanistan took place a day ahead of the BRICS summit, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is again expected to highlight concerns on terrorism, and also SCO summit next week where Pakistan PM Imran Khan will also be present.
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Despite the importance they attach to Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, Russia and China are concerned about the presence of terrorist groups and India has been emphasising to Moscow and others that India-oriented and UN-proscribed LeT and JeM are as deadly as any other terror group, if not more.
Official sources said this was the first “detailed and extensive” review of the Afghanistan situation involving MEA, defence ministry and security agencies with Russia after the fall of Kabul to Taliban on August 15. India is also learnt to have expressed concern over security of minorities, including Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan.
After the delegation talks, Patrushev called on Modi and foreign minister S Jaishankar. In the meeting with Modi, according to a Russian press statement, the two sides reaffirmed the intention to strengthen coordination for enhancing regional stability, including in Afghanistan.
Amid much grinding of teeth over terrorists, euphemistically called extremists, seizing reins of power in Kabul, the United States on Tuesday guardedly said it was concerned about the “affiliations and track records” of some of the people named by Taliban to fill top posts in Afghanistan’s new
According to Indian government sources, there was a convergence of views on issues and threats related to Afghanistan and both sides expressed “deep concern” over the situation. They agreed on the need for Taliban to adhere to its commitments and on “presence of international terrorist groups in Afghanistan and threat from terrorism to central Asia and India”. The sides also expressed similar views on Islamic radicalisation and extremism, flow of weapons to terrorist groups and smuggling across Afghan borders and also “high chances of Afghanistan becoming hub of opium production and trafficking”.
“The two sides discussed concrete forms of future bilateral cooperation among security agencies, including close coordination, upgrading consultations and exchange of information,” said an official.
“The importance of defining parameters of the future state structure of Afghanistan by the Afghans themselves, as well as the need to prevent the escalation of violence, social, ethnic and confessional contradictions in the country, were emphasized,” said Russia.
In separate comments, India’s envoy to Russia Venkatesh Varma said neither the Doha talks nor the Troika Plus talks have yielded the right results. “India was not a direct participant in the Doha talks. India was also not part of the Troika Plus mechanism... I think one lesson is that it is better that India and Russia work together with respect to Afghanistan. That is the most important lesson for us.”
Speaking to RIA Novosti on the eve of Russian NSA Patrushev’s visit, Varma said, “There’s now a new situation in Afghanistan. All the foreign troops have left. The Taliban has taken over in Kabul, but instability continues.”
“There are very fast-moving developments in Afghanistan... Press reports say a number of slogans were raised against external interference in Afghanistan, particularly from Pakistan.”
Expanding on India’s recently articulated ‘Far East Policy’ which includes a $1billion credit line for Indian businesses to participate in the development of the Russian Far East, Varma said it would create “new connectivities and an Energy Bridge from Yamal to Vladivostok to Chennai. So energy is emerging as a very important pillar of our cooperation”.