New Delhi :Security chiefs of seven countries, including Russia, Iran and the five Central Asian nations, are participating in the November 10 regional security dialogue being hosted by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, that will see them discuss terrorism within Afghanistan and across its borders, the threat of radicalization and extremism, and cross-border movement of terrorists, among other major issues.
The Security chiefs of Russia, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are attending the ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’.
While Pakistan has declined to attend, China cited “scheduling difficulties” for not attending the key event, but said it is open to meeting with India over Afghanistan bilaterally and multilaterally, sources said.
“We would have been very happy to have China attend the meet,” said the sources.
The dialogue, being held at the level of the security czars of the respective countries, is the third such dialogue, with the first two editions having been hosted by Iran in 2018 and 2019. India attended both the meets.
Pakistan did not attend the previous two NSA-level meets too, and had told Tehran that if India is present then it will not attend, the sources said.
“Pakistan has chosen not to attend the Delhi Security Dialogue, for reasons for them to answer. Either they do not share the security concerns of the other countries or have a different perception of what is going on in Afghanistan,” the sources added.
“Pakistan is the only country that has provided facilitation to the Taliban and the Haqqani network and other terror groups in Afghanistan. This fact is well recognized by the other seven countries; that there is a credibility gap between Pakistan’s actions and intentions. Their actions do not match their words,” the sources said.
“Some say it openly and some reflect it through actions,” the sources added.
Terrorism within Afghanistan and across its borders, the threat of radicalization and extremism, the cross-border movement of terrorists, drug production and trafficking, and the vast quantity of military weapons left behind by the US-led forces when they quit Afghanistan, would be discussed at the NSA meet, the sources said.
The National Security Advisors/Secretaries of Security Councils of the seven countries would be arriving by special flights tomorrow.
The NSAs of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will hold bilateral meetings with NSA Ajit Doval tomorrow, while on November 10 after the dialogue is over, bilateral meetings will be held with the Russian, Iranian and Kazakhstan NSAs, the sources said.
The security czars of the seven countries will make a joint call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of the meeting.
To a question if any representative from the Taliban regime had been called, the source said: “None of the participating countries, including India, have recognized or legitimized the Taliban regime in Kabul. Many of the countries said that it is not on their agenda. None of the countries asked to call a Taliban representative for the meet”.
The source said the fact that the meeting is being held in New Delhi and that all the seven key countries are participating, is reflective of the “importance they attach to the role they see for India” and also of the “degree of worry about what is happening in Afghanistan”.
“There is considerable worry about the implications of the security situation in Afghanistan. The countries will see if they can find common ground on the way forward. We are keen to see that whatever is done is through consensus,” the source added.
“The fact that all the key countries agree on the threats we all face (regarding Afghanistan) and also agree upon what should be done in the situation, is a major thing, as sometimes there is no consensus among countries on the threats we face,” the source added.
On the deliverables of the meeting, the source said that there would be “nothing specific”. The countries will see what can be done in practical terms, and if there is consensus there could be a joint statement. But issuing a joint statement will not be the focus of the meeting, the source added.
On India’s role, the source said there is “very high degree of convergence on the points of concern. We have very, very similar objectives in Afghanistan,” the source said.
The countries remember the Taliban of the 1990s. They are not ready for the export of Taliban ideology into their society. “This resonates with all the countries,” the source said.
On the issue of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, the source said that it will be discussed at the meet.
On India providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the source said that “We would like to help, but we need quick access to Afghanistan, which Pakistan has denied to us. Pakistan claims to be concerned about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, then it should allow humanitarian aid from India.”
The source said that the security establishments of the eight countries, including India, are in touch and share information regularly.
“All the countries want to be part of the solution in Afghanistan. Pakistan cannot say this about itself. But the other countries want to sit across the table to see how to reduce the security risks both within and without Afghanistan,” the sources added.
“Whoever governs Kabul must represent the will of the people of Afghanistan. This is an important issue. There is consensus on this, as this has implications on the sustainability of the current regime,” the source added.
On whether the US could be called for the meeting format in future, the source said that “no doors are shut” to other countries wanting to attend.
On the Islamic State-Khorasan’s growing terror footprint in Afghanistan, with regular bombings being executed in that country, the source said that “our assessment is that it is Pakistan that is behind the IS-KP and the violence unfolding in that country”.
A statement said that the high level Dialogue will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan. It will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability.
“India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan and has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. The forthcoming meeting is a step in that direction,” it said.