‘No discussion on Indian troops in Afghanistan,’ says US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad
Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan in the US State Department, told Times Now that the United States wants India to participate in the Afghan peace process, but there has been no discussion about having Indian troops in Kabul.
Khalilzad said he had a “very good meeting and the focus was Indian involvement in international efforts in the support of peace in Afghanistan and we discussed alternatives and how best India, which has an important role in Afghanistan on what happen.
We exchanged views on the options… The United States is supportive of India playing its role in the quest for peace”. “India is supportive.
It is going to think about the alternatives and we need to continue regular exchanges and I hope that we will reach an agreement on which one among the options are best for India to participate in and we support Indian involvement
There were several reasons why the United States thought Indian involvement was necessary which are as follows:
- India’s proximity to Afghanistan and also, India’s role in international affairs
- The long history of good Afghan-Indian relations
- Good relations between the United States and India and India’s support of the peace effort
Dubbing the discussion with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, and the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, as “substantive, very positive and constructive,” the US envoy noted that there was no discussion on the issue of Indian troops in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad said that the discussion was about “the peace process in the aftermath of the US-Taliban deal being implemented, the state of violence in Afghanistan, the spread of coronavirus, inter-Afghan negotiations and the alternatives”.
Safe havens in Pakistan
Asked about India’s concerns about the safe havens of terrorism in Pakistan and the role of the Haqqani network, the US envoy said, “As you know, the agreement between the US and the Taliban has a key element stipulating that Afghanistan’s territory is not to be used by hostile groups against the US and its allies.”
He said that Afghanistan could not be used for terrorists and there were concerns that the international community and “India, of course,” had. Speaking about the suffering of the Afghan people Khalilzad said, “The international community, the United States, India, of course, will not like to be threatened. Afghan territory should not be used against anybody and therefore, we have a common interest.
We, India and the International community want peace for the Afghans and peace for the world… On that issue, there is broad agreement between the United States and India.”
Asked if Pakistan would close down the safe havens and if the issue came up during the discussion, he said, “Pakistan’s leadership has been supportive of the efforts.” Pakistan has encouraged the Taliban to finalize the agreement and go towards the next steps such as reduction of violence and inter-Afghan negotiations as part of the peace process, he added.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbours. The territories should not be used against each other by groups on behalf of one or the other. Peace in Afghanistan opens the door for more positive relations (and) opportunities between Afghanistan and Pakistan, between Afghanistan and other neighbours.” Khalilzad said peace in Afghanistan would be a positive for Central and South Asia in order to improve regional trade and regional economic cooperation and competition.
“So, Afghanistan can open regional relations from zero-sum to non-zero-sum. We are hopeful that the Afghan peace process will make progress and the international community and the regional powers will also be supportive of these efforts.
Peace in Afghanistan can succeed if the regional powers and the neighbours support it.” Is Afghanistan peace process good for India? So, will the peace process in Afghanistan be good for India, a country facing cross-border terrorism?
Yes, said Khalilzad. “It will be good for India, it will be good for the entire world. Remember that the United States and the coalition forces came to Afghanistan because of the terrorist attack by Al Qaeda on the US on 9/11″.
The agreement with the Taliban has produced a black-and-white commitment that they won’t allow any group to threaten the security of the US and its allies and operate in Afghanistan, he added. Khalilzad said Afghanistan should not be a terrorist threat to the world, “including, of course, to India”.
In return, “commitment that we the US has made is conditional” which means that if the Taliban breaks the agreement, crosses the read lines, the USA can act unilaterally. Sources here said that during the meeting the prospects of reconciliation and the various formulations being considered were discussed.
Other Issues included the increasing number of attacks by the Taliban, the security of the minorities, including the Hindus and Sikhs. India believes that the gains of the last two decades, particularly in the social sector, have to be preserved.
Source: Times Now