India ‘fully in the picture’: Afghan CEO on peace process


United Nations : Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. AP/PTI(AP9_29_2015_000010B)

NEW DELHI: Amid efforts to resume its stalled peace process with the Taliban, Afghanistan today said India is “fully in the picture” and it is being kept abreast about every single development aimed at bringing stability in the war-ravaged nation.

Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah expressing satisfaction over defense and security ties between the two countries, also said his government was happy with support from India over supply of military hardware and that there was “no redline” on it.

Asked during a media interaction whether there was any link between terror attacks outside Indian consulate in Mazar- e-Sharif and Pathankot air base, he said it would have been shared if there was any. He said every possible step is being taken to ensure security of diplomatic missions of India and others.

On comments by an Afghan police official that Pakistan army personnel were involved in the Mazar-e-Sharif attack, he did not give a specific response but said, “We have full sense of cooperation between our security personnel.”

Identifying terrorism as the biggest challenge facing the region, Abdullah said Pakistan has influence over the Talibans and can play a major role in bringing the terror outfit to talks with Kabul.

“There is enough lesson for us that the terror groups regardless of who have created and supported them will turn against the state,” he said.

On military hardware supply to Afghanistan by India, he said, “We are happy with support from India including the military part. It was being based on our priority. There is no limitation and there is no sort of redline.” India had supplied three Mi-35 multi-role helicopters to Kabul in December.

Queried whether India has been kept out of the peace process as Pakistan, China and the US were trying to restart Kabul’s talks with the Taliban, he said this is a “preparatory phase of facilitating the negotiations and that India is fully in the picture” and that it is being “kept abreast about every single development”.

Representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US are scheduled to meet on Saturday as part of the ongoing efforts to lay out a roadmap for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. (More) PTI MPB
Abdullah said countries involved in the peace process at present have either influence on the Taliban or on the situation, adding there are no red lines for groups to give up violence to participate in talks. He said Taliban leaders are based in Pakistan which can influence them to shun violence.

“India is for a stable democratic inclusive Afghanistan.

India’s position converges with what we want. India has a big stake in stabilization of the country and is part of that process,” he said.

Asked whether India has been kept out of the peace process under pressure from a third country, he only said, “India’s position on talks is very clear. The negotiations have to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and that is what we have said.”

The Afghan CEO, who had arrived in India on a five-day visit on Sunday, had held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Abdullah said Afghanistan is also negotiating with Russia for supply of helicopters.

On China’s involvement on the issue of resumption of peace talks, he said that country has good relations with Afghanistan as well as Pakistan while insisting that India is a strategic partner and can play a significant role in ensuring peace in Afghanistan.

The Afghan CEO said the Indian government has expressed gratitude on the way Afghan security forces foiled the Mazar-e-Sharif attack.

Inviting Indian companies to invest in Afghanistan, he said every possible help will be extended to them, besides ensuring ease of doing business.

India has invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction and trained scores of Afghan officers.–PTI