Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Recently, we are witnessing the mobilization of the regional state’s efforts on the Afghan issue. One of the latest examples of this, a Delhi Regional Dialogue held on November 10, by the participation of senior security officials of Russia, Iran, India and five Central Asian countries. The meeting was chaired by the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, Ajit Doval, which shows India’s intentions to embrace the role of peacemaker on Afghanistan.
During a meeting, participants discussed the development of the situation in Afghanistan, paying special attention to the security situation, as well as the regional and global consequences of recent events in the region. In particular, security officials of states stressed the need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
Moscow has unequivocally supported the Delhi initiative. Thus, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said that such contacts on Afghanistan and other regional issues should be continued.
Absence of China and Pakistan
Pakistan and China were also invited to the conference but didn’t participate. China cited “scheduling reasons” for its non-arrival, but said it is open to dialogue with India on Afghanistan multilaterally and bilaterally. Pakistan, too, decided to skip the meeting. The head of the Pakistani National Security Agency, Moeed Yusuf said that he would not attend the meeting in New Delhi, because of the non-participation of the Taliban regime from Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s and China’s decision not to participate in the Delhi Dialogue reflects India’s traditional tensions with Pakistan and China stemming from their unsettled borders and competition for influence. For many years, India and Pakistan have sought to turn Afghanistan into their sphere of influence. The fact that the next day after the conference in India, on November 11, Pakistan hosted a meeting on Afghanistan in the “Troika plus” format, which was attended by Russia, the United States, China and representative from Afghanistan, shows how severe the battle for influence on Afghanistan between New Delhi and Islamabad.
India’s role of peacemaker on Afghanistan
Despite the absence of China and Pakistan, the meeting, which brought together regional actors such as Iran, Russia and India, has advantages for New Delhi.
First, India has found a platform to strengthen its position as a peacemaker. In fact, over the past several years, India has not participated in regional consultations on Afghanistan, including the Doha Process, the Troika Plus talks and other multilateral initiatives led by China and Russia, which ultimately left India feeling left out. In this sense, taking the initiative of the Delhi Dialogue, India is trying to embrace the role of peacemaker in the region.
On the other hand, terrorism and destructive forces coming from Afghanistan pose a threat to the security of India. Against this background, India understands that it will have to rely on the countries of the region to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. This is the main reason why India has intensified consultations with Russia, Iran, Central Asian countries and other countries.
Secondly, India has demonstrated its influence among its allies. The fact that Iran, Russia and the Central Asian countries participated in the conference proves that they are ready to pursue a foreign policy independent of Indian-Pakistani and Indian-Chinese contradictions. It also showed that they believe in the impossibility of solving the Afghan problem without the participation of India, as well as Pakistan, in establishing peace in Afghanistan. In this regard, such coordination of efforts can positively affect the resolution of controversial issues and tense relations between neighboring countries in the region.
In addition, the new authorities in Kabul, even if they were not invited for the meeting, expressed optimism about the meeting, since it demonstrated the importance of Afghanistan for the region. “We are optimistic, because the whole region needs stability and security in Afghanistan… the meetings that are going to happen pave the way to understanding, and they are hopefully in the benefit of Afghanistan,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. This, in turn, proves that the Taliban supports the importance of India’s role in rebuilding and stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan.
As a conclusion
Recent events in Afghanistan and changes in the geopolitical reality in the region show that the neighboring countries of Afghanistan and global actors need to forget about their grievances and contradictions. It’s time for close coordination and greater cooperation among these countries to ensure a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan and also the whole of South Asia. Neighbors should value each other’s diplomatic presence in any process to find compromise in Afghanistan in order to bring prosperity to this devasted part of the world.