What is the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan?
16th Nov, 2021
India hosted senior security officials from Russia, Iran, and the five Central Asian countries to discuss the situation in neighboring Afghanistan following the fall of the U.S.-backed government and the Taliban takeover of the country.
- This is the third round of this format of talks involving the security chiefs of Russia, India, China, Pakistan, Iran, and the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
- Previous editions (2018 and 2019) of this dialogue were hosted by Iran.
Important takeaways of the National Security Advisors’ (NSAs’) level dialogue
- The dialogue will be led by India’s NSA Ajit Doval.
- Apart from the NSA, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan also participated in the meeting.
- The participants discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its regional and global ramifications.
- The sides paid special attention to the current political situation in Afghanistan and threats arising from terrorism, radicalization, and drug trafficking as well as the need for humanitarian assistance.
What message is given by India by holding the dialogue?
- By holding the Third Regional Security Dialogueon Afghanistan, India has sent out three strong messages:
- India wishes to remain an important and engaged player in the future of Afghanistan
- With the exit of U.S.-NATO troops, the ideal solution to the situation is through consensus in Afghanistan’s extended neighborhood including Russia
- The Afghan humanitarian crisis should be the region’s immediate priority and political differences can be set aside to help
Important Infrastructure projects in Afghanistan
- One of the key India-funded projects in Afghanistan is the 42 MW Salma Dam or the Afghan-India Friendship Dam project in Herat Province. It is a hydropower and irrigation project that was completed and launched in 2016.
- The Zaranj-Delaram highway, a 218-km path built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) also counts as a flagship Indian project in Afghanistan.
- The Afghan Parliament is another high-profile project completed by India for $90 million.
- The restoration and inauguration of the Star Palace in 2016, originally built in the late 19th century, is another crucial project undertaken by India in Afghanistan.
Significance of the dialogue
- An insider benefit: China and Pakistan do not intend to assist in its Afghan engagement, further demonstrated by the Khan government’s churlishness in refusing India road access to send wheat and medicines to Kabul. To that end, the Delhi Declaration issued is a milestone in keeping India inside the discussion on Afghanistan.
- Strong voice over issues: The declaration goes farther than the previous regional discussion of SCO countries in Dushanbe in September, in its strong language on terrorism, terror financing, and radicalization.
- Security: It also expands on the need for an inclusive government in Kabul that will replace the Interim Taliban regime, and promotes a national reconciliation process.
What happened in Afghanistan?
- In the past few months, Afghanistan has experienced dramatic upheaval as the US withdrew its last remaining troops from the country, ending a two-decade-long military presence triggered by the 9/11 terror attacks.
- Afghanistan had been warned that the US-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani could collapse within months of the American departure under pressure from the Taliban.
- Taliban are Islamist militants who ruled Afghanistan under strict Sharia law from 1996 until they were driven out by the US-led invasion in 2001.
- In the event, Ghani fled — and the Taliban seized Kabul — two weeks before the last US troops were gone, bringing an ignominious end to Washington’s political and military intervention there.
- Afghans now face uncertain prospects under the renewed rule of the Taliban, which itself is under fire from the extremists of the Afghan affiliate of Isis.
Why situation in Afghanistan is a concern for all?
- The current situation in Afghanistan poses an extra risk of
- drug trafficking
- security concerns
- Also, Tajikistan and Afghanistan border remains “complicated” due to many factors.
These kinds of dialogues have the potential to ‘restore peace’ in Afghanistan by taking practical steps in arresting threats emanating from within the territory of Afghanistan.
The participants thanked the Republic of India for holding the Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan in New Delhi. The participants agreed to hold the next round in 2022.