India hosted senior security officials from Russia, Iran, and five Central Asian countries on Wednesday to discuss the situation in neighboring Afghanistan following the fall of the US-backed government and Taliban takeover.
Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Adviser, invited security chiefs from Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghan representatives were not invited, and Pakistan and China declined to attend, with Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf calling India a “spoiler” rather than a “peacemaker” in Afghanistan last week.
“This is a time for close consultation among us,” Doval said in his opening remarks. He expressed his hope that the discussions will benefit the Afghan people and strengthen the region’s collective security.
According to a statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the meeting will address “the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security, and stability.”
On Wednesday, top security officials were expected to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Iran hosted the first two editions of the meeting in 2018 and 2019.
According to officials from India’s foreign ministry, Pakistan’s refusal to attend the meeting was “unfortunate, but not surprising,” and “reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate.”
The meeting highlights India’s efforts to safeguard its strategic interests in Afghanistan in the face of Pakistan’s growing influence in the region. India and Pakistan have long attempted to wield influence over Afghanistan in order to meet their respective security interests.
India’s leaders are concerned that the Taliban’s rise to power will benefit Pakistan and fuel a long-simmering insurgency in Kashmir’s disputed region, where militants already have a foothold.
The relationship between New Delhi and Afghanistan is in limbo. It no longer has a diplomatic presence in Kabul after evacuating its staff ahead of the US’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Aug. 31, it did, however, hold its first official meeting with a Taliban representative in Qatar.
Even though it had no troops on the ground at the time of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, India provided operational training and military equipment to Afghan security forces. It was also the largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan in the region.