India willing to stand by Afghanistan: MEA

New Delhi: India on Monday said it is willing to stand by Afghans and called for unimpeded access to aid providers to the country as also a “non-discriminatory” distribution of relief supplies across all sections of the society.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that as an immediate neighbour, India is monitoring developments in Afghanistan with “understandable concern”, and noted that the issue of travel and safe passage that can emerge as an obstacle to humanitarian assistance should be immediately sorted out, NDTV reported.

In a brief virtual address at the UN high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the minister also heightened the threat of rising poverty levels and said the same could have a catastrophic effect on regional stability.

He said India’s approach to Afghanistan has always been guided by its historical friendship with its people and it will continue to be the case, the report said.

“Today, I wish to underline that in the face of a grave emerging situation, India is willing to stand by the Afghan people, just as in the past. To ensure that this happened speedily and effectively, we believe that the international community must come together to create the best possible enabling environment,” the report quoted the Minister as saying.

“Among the challenges that the current situation poses is that of efficient logistics. It is therefore essential that humanitarian assistance providers are accorded unimpeded, unrestricted and direct access to Afghanistan,” Jaishankar said.

The External Affairs Minister said once relief materials reach that country, the world will naturally expect a “non-discriminatory distribution of humanitarian assistance across all sections of the Afghan society”.

“Only the United Nations has the capacity to monitor such endeavours and reassure donors. As the picture becomes clear in respect of the legitimate concerns I am confident that the world will step forward and assist the Afghan people in their hour of need,” he said.

His comments came in the backdrop of apprehensions of whether the relief materials, once delivered, will reach the intended beneficiaries under the Taliban regime.

“Afghanistan is passing through a critical and challenging phase. There has been a sea change in its political, economic, social and security situation, and consequently, in its humanitarian needs,” he said.

“As an immediate neighbour, India’s monitoring developments with understandable concern,” he added.

Jaishankar said India has consistently supported a central role of the global body on the future of the country as a multilateral platform is always more effective than small groups in building global consensus and encouraging united action.


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