In its first official statement to the Taliban as a state actor, India along with Australia acknowledged in a joint statement that the group holds positions of power in Afghanistan.
This reference is a step forward in developing diplomatic relations but it falls short of recognising the newly appointed Taliban Cabinet as the official government of Afghanistan. According to the sources, the formulation of Sunday’s statement was ‘after much debate and deliberation’ over the course of the week.
The External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, described the Taliban as the ‘dispensation’ in Kabul during his remarks after the 2+2 conversations, on Saturday, with the Australian Foreign and Defense Ministers.
Sunday’s joint statement said: “(The) Ministers also expressed deep concern about the situation in Afghanistan. Ministers called for the Taliban to guarantee safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans wanting to leave the country.”
It further added: “They reiterated calls on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to adhere to counterterrorism commitments and human rights, in accordance with UNSCR 2593.”
UNSCR 2593, or the UN Security Council Resolution 2593 which was issued on August 30th, under India’s month long presidency, emphasized that, Afghanistan must not allow its land to be used for activities linked to terrorism.
The joint statement also outlined the reports of Human Rights violations in the country under the Taliban. “The Ministers noted reports of targeted violence against women’s rights defenders and a roll back on equal rights, access to public spaces and services. They reiterate their call for protection of rights of women and children and their complete participation in public life.”
The purpose of the statement was to seek a “broad-based and inclusive government” for long term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Flagging their concerns on terrorism, the ministers added that both the sides have agreed to remain alert to the broader repercussions of the developments in Afghanistan for the ongoing terrorist threats around the world, and in our region.
Along with Jaishankar and the Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, the 2+2 conversations included Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton.