Shortsightedness in Afghanistan could lead to ‘unmitigated disaster’: India

New Delhi wary of Kabul descending into chaos of the 1990s.

By Sujeet Rajan

UNITED NATIONS: India has expressed its worry that the overall security situation remains volatile in Afghanistan amidst the ongoing simultaneous security, political and economic transitions in the country.

“We are yet to isolate and root out the syndicate of terrorism, which includes elements of Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT and other terrorist and extremist groups that operate with impunity from safe havens across Afghanistan’s borders,” said Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri, India’s Acting Permanent Representative at the United Nations, speaking at a debate on Afghanistan. “Indeed, as NATO draws down from Afghanistan claiming ‘Mission nearly Accomplished’, judging by the latest acts of terrorism and violence, there is no sign a similar ‘drawdown’ on the part of terrorist outfits across the border.”

Puri pointed out that whatever happens in Afghanistan has and will continue to affect security in India’s region and the world.

“We have not forgotten the terrorist havens that wreaked havoc as Afghanistan descended into chaos in the 1990s. And obviously, we do not want that to happen again,” he said.

As Afghanistan looks forward to holding Presidential and Provincial elections in April, 2014, “we need to bear in mind that short-sighted approaches and quick-fixes guided by political expediency could be a recipe for unmitigated disaster,” said Puri.

He added it was imperative that any political settlement must be driven by Afghans so that it is acceptable to all sections of Afghan society and does not jeopardize the hard won gains of the last 10 years.

“A single-minded focus on the elections and constitutionalism would vindicate the 2004 Constitution, the most widely debated with the maximum consensus to date, consolidate democracy, institutionalize elections, and provide the legitimacy and political and moral strength to the Islamic Republic to negotiate with the Taliban and advocates of an Islamic Emirate, and the international community, from a position of strength, and guarantee the post-2001 gains for new and older generations of Afghans,” said Puri.

The ambassador said India remains engaged with like-minded countries having the shared goal of peace, security and development in Afghanistan. In pursuit of this, India has held a dialogue with the US and Afghanistan in New Delhi and China and Russia in Moscow last month.

“We firmly belief that Afghan ownership and leadership is critical for cementing the foundations of lasting peace and stability in the country,” said Puri. “The Afghan people should be able to choose their destiny in an environment free from coercion and outside interference. Security is the key ingredient for accelerated socio-economic development, which could also be a catalyst in strengthening the voices of moderation and tolerance in the Afghan society.”

India has pledged up to $ 2 billion in development and humanitarian assistance.

“India remains unwavering in its commitment to assisting the people of Afghanistan in their endeavor to build a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous nation,” said Puri.

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