With Pakistan taking the centre stage by joining the United States, Russia and China over the weekend to craft a peace agreement with the Taliban, in the Afghan peace process, India has been dealt out of the future of Afghanistan.
India’s participation or voice has been negligible in the evolving situation, while Pakistan has used the opportunity to manoeuvre itself to centerstage of the region’s geopolitics.
“India’s 18-year-old effort to strengthen ties with Afghanistan should not be lost at this juncture. India’s indifference to the evolving situation in Afghanistan will likely cost it in the long run,” Shaida Abdali, former Afghan ambassador to India and a presidential candidate, was quoted by The Times of India as saying.
In January, the United States had offered a free trade agreement (FTA) to Pakistan in return for their assistance in ending the Afghan War, reported the Dawn.
According to the report, US Senator Lindsey Graham, who visited Islamabad in January, was believed to have discussed with Pakistani leaders a proposal for a free trade agreement (FTA) in return for Islamabad’s assistance in ending the Afghan war.
After the Afghan Taliban had said that they had a meeting with the US envoy in Qatar early this year, US had also confirmed that Zalmay Khalilzad, their envoy met them in order to end to the Afghanistan war despite a new major attack claimed by the insurgents.
A Taliban spokesman announced the meeting with Khalilzad , saying that the United States accepted an agenda of “ending the occupation of Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from being used against other countries in the future.”
In early July, peace talks between Afghan delegates and Taliban were held in Doha which ended with both sides calling to reduce casualties to “zero” amid the rising death toll in the war-torn country.
The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue, sponsored by Qatar and Germany, between Afghan politicians, civil society members, including women, and the Taliban was seen as a substantive step towards peace in Afghanistan.
“…Committed to respect and protect the dignity of people, their life and property and to minimise the civilian casualties to zero,” a joint statement released at the end of the talks in Doha said.