M A I N   N E W S

India, Afghanistan discuss Taliban
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, April 26
Afghan President Hamid Karzai today sought to allay India’s concerns over the proposed re-entry of the Taliban in the Afghanistan government when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today.

Karzai indicated that his government would enter into a power-sharing arrangement with those elements of Taliban who had accepted the country’s constitution and were not part of the Al Qaida.

The Afghan president was on a two-day visit to New Delhi before proceeding to Bhutan to participate in the 16th SAARC summit.

Karzai also extended an invitation to PM Manmohan Singh to visit Kabul that was accepted. The dates for the trip are to be worked out.

His meeting with the Manmohan Singh today comes in the backdrop of moves being initiated by the Afghan government to enter into a power-sharing arrangement with the so-called “moderate” elements of the Taliban. New Delhi is worried that such a development will lead to the increased influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan. The Afghan president is planning a peace “jirga” on his return from the US next month in this connection.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Karzai said they had discussed the upcoming Afghanistan peace consultative jirga that, he explained should “ comprise people of Afghanistan, those from all walks of life to advise on how to move forward for reintegration and reconciliation of those elements of Taliban and others who have accepted the Constitution or not part of the Al Qaida or any terrorist network.”

The Afghan President said he had also requested PM Singh to send representatives to the follow-up to the London conference in Kabul later this year so “India can participate once again in Afghanistan’s reconstruction”.

India was forced to backtrack on the Taliban issue after the US and other European countries encouraged Karzai to do business with the Taliban at the London conference earlier this year. While the US and NATO countries are looking for an exit route from war-ravaged Afghanistan, India is worried that that this will have an adverse impact on the security and stability of the region. .

The Prime Minister had also shared India’s concerns over these developments in Afghanistan when he met US president Barack Obama in Washington a fortnight ago.

New Delhi has always maintained that the attacks on Indians in Afghanistan have the backing of Pakistan’s ISI as Islamabad wants Indian presence in that country to be reduced. India has, however, stood its ground and this was conveyed as much by Manmohan Singh to Karzai. “India remains committed to assist the people of Afghanistan in their efforts towards the reconstruction and development of their country,” he said, adding that India was even ready to augment its assistance for capacity building and for skills and human resources development in Afghanistan.





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