Abdullah assured of India’s “active involvement” in the peace dialogue

NEW DELHI: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, arrived in India on Tuesday for a five-day trip, on the back of a constructive delegation visit to Pakistan only a few days prior. Successive Afghan governments have maintained a significant degree of posturing with India, especially in the midst of deteriorating relations with Pakistan and a volatile environment across the Pak-Afghan border.

During his visit, Abdullah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, as he was assured of New Delhi’s “active involvement” in the Afghan government’s peace dialogue with the Taliban – in an effort to put an end to a two decade long period of civil strife.

In an interview with ThePrint, Abdullah mentioned that “India has been supporting Afghanistan, supporting the Islamic Republic, and also India is supportive of an inclusive peaceful settlement, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led negotiations”, although he did not raise the idea of Delhi in direct correspondence with the Taliban.

While India, to its dismay, was not a direct stakeholder in the U.S-led peace deal between the Trump Administration and the Taliban, it has been making concerted efforts to position itself as a strategic partner of the Afghan government – providing a counterweight to Pakistan’s role in the peace process, especially in the scenario of a Taliban-led regime (which India has refused to support).

Abdullah emphasised the importance of a mutually agreed ceasefire and reduction in violence, adding that “it will be very difficult for the people of Afghanistan to accept the fact that while talks continue, violence continues to increase – that’s not something that the people will continue to tolerate. So, we are hopeful and… our team is flexible enough. If not a complete ceasefire, what else?”