India has no ‘exit strategy’ in Afghanistan

Indian envoy calls terrorism the greatest threat to peace, stability

NEW YORK, United States – India’s acting permanent representative at the United Nations Ambassador Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi has said that India will not endorse treating the Afghan government on par with elements of the Taliban, even as it reiterated that terrorism and not ethnicity is the greatest threat to peace in an Afghanistan on the verge of a historic transition.

“Treating the government of Afghanistan on par with elements of the erstwhile Taliban regime is something we will never endorse,” he said at the UN Security Council debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Bishnoi underscored India’s ‘unwavering commitment’ to assist the Afghan people and the government as they build a peaceful, pluralistic, democratic and prosperous nation.

“India does not have an ‘exit strategy’ in Afghanistan with whom we share civilisational linkages spanning hundreds of years,” he said. India believes the reconciliation process must remain Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled while respecting the agreed red lines, he said. Bishnoi noted that the entire Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member states had recently endorsed the Afghan-controlled process of reconciliation.

He said the May 23 terror attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat was a grim reminder that terrorism, not ethnicity or tribal differences, was the greatest threat to peace and stability in Afghanistan and the chances of the Afghan people attaining a path of self-sustained economic growth and prosperity.

Bishnoi said India is distressed to learn that incidents in the south, southeast and east of Afghanistan alone accounted for 3,917 of the total number of incidents in the short period of March-May 2014. “The whole-hearted support by the international community to developing a prosperous, independent and sovereign Afghanistan capable of defending itself is the only way to defeat this scourge,” he said.

Terming the political transition in Afghanistan, set to take place on August 2, as a significant milestone in the country’s entire history, Bishnoi expressed India’s full support to the political, social and economic transition that was taking place. While the world’s focus has been on the security and political transitions in Afghanistan, attention should not be diverted from the equally important issue of economic development, he said.

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