Ahead of regional conference on Afghanistan, Doval meets Tajik, Uzbek counterparts

In a veiled reference to Pakistan, they say neighbours must play a constructive role there

Ahead of the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met his counterparts from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for separate bilateral meetings here on Tuesday where they discussed the terror threats from Afghanistan, the humanitarian crisis unfolding there and the need for an inclusive and ‘legitimate’ Government in Kabul. Mr. Doval will join the NSAs and the security chiefs for an eight-nation conference on Wednesday morning, to discuss the issues further.

“Afghanistan was the major focus of discussions. Both sides agreed that the future of Afghanistan must be decided by the people of Afghanistan themselves,” sources said after Mr. Doval’s meeting with Uzbekistan Secretary of the Security Council Lt. Gen. Victor Makhmudov in the South Block, adding that the question of legitimacy should be dealt with before discussing international recognition to the Government in Kabul. At present, no country has recognised the Taliban Interim Government and the Taliban has rejected calls for an electoral process to decide who will succeed the previous Ghani Government.

Humanitarian crisis

“Both sides emphasised the need for neighbours to ensure unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. They also agreed that the neighbours must play a constructive role there,” sources said in comments that appeared aimed at Pakistan which has declined India’s request to send medical and wheat shipments as aid by road to Afghanistan, where the U.N. has warned more than half the population could face a crisis with food stocks running out.

The comments come a week after Mr. Makhmudov was in Islamabad to establish a Joint Security Commission agreement with the Pakistan Government to strengthen strategic and connectivity ties.

Tajikistan’s Secretary of the Security Council Nasrullo Rahmatjon also “highlighted the gravity of the situation in Afghanistan” from a “sharp increase” in terrorist threats during his meeting with Mr. Doval. Sources said both countries have a significant convergence of assessments on Afghanistan.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has taken the toughest line amongst the Central Asian states on the Taliban for its “human rights violations” and the Government is believed to have hosted members of the anti-Taliban “National Resistance Front” led by Ahmed Masoud at various times in the past few months.

Government sources privy to the conversation said Mr. Doval and Mr. Rahmatjon also spoke about deepening cooperation in areas like defence, border management and border infrastructure development.

On Wednesday, Mr. Doval will host the plenary session of all the security chiefs attending the dialogue. In the afternoon, he will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan.

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