External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid asserted on Monday that India cannot remain a “bystander” in Afghanistan, but also cautioned against the voices within the country, which advocated direct intervention in regional issues.
“India must not and cannot be a bystander in Afghanistan. Whatever is happening (in Afghanistan) is happening to us -- physically, spiritually and psychologically. It’s happening in the neighbourhood, but in the family,” he said at the launch of a report on the violence torn nation by Delhi Policy Group, a think-tank.
Earlier, he observed that there was a “lot of distressing and disturbing impulses from people who should be well-informed on public policy.”
“Either, we have an element of jingoism, which means that India should be policing the entire region, have a first strike capacity. There are others happy to be groaning or whining on how ineffective India has become,” said Khurshid.
“The US was willing to put at risk huge numbers of its military assets to save one pilot in the world, but at an enormous price,” he said. According to the minister, the Americans now had such a “sense of fatigue” regarding direct intervention that they were not even willing to deploy a pilot for carrying out aerial attacks, referring to the pilotless drone strikes on the Taliban and other Islamist militant outfits in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He added that India wanted to be part of the solution to the Afghan conflict. “Some people want us to be part of the problem. We don’t want to give them the chance to say that,” Khurshid said.
Even as he made it clear that it was up to the Hamid Karzai Government in Kabul to decide on a reconciliation process with the Taliban militants, the External Affairs Minister also indicated New Delhi’s concerns on the issue. “We were a little concerned about good and bad Taliban categories.. . Ultimately, it’s for the Afghan leadership to take a call. It is also our duty to forewarn them about the concerns that others are overlooking in their bid to depart in a hurry,” he said in an apparent dig at the US and the NATO, who have been behind the concerted push for talks with the Taliban before their scheduled drawdown from 2014.
Later this month, Khurshid will be travelling to Astana in Kazakhstan to take part in the ministerial meeting on the ‘Istanbul process on Afghanistan’.
Kabul’s envoy to New Delhi Shaida Abdali, who was present on the occasion said, “I would urge India to take pro-active measures (on Afghanistan).