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Ending terror sanctuaries essential for peace in Afghanistan

India on Monday told a meeting on the development of Afghanistan that putting an end to terror sanctuaries and safe havens is an essential condition for ensuring peace and stability in the war-torn country.

JP Singh, the new head of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk in the external affairs ministry, represented India at “Strengthening Consensus for Peace”, a meeting of regional partners that was hosted by the Afghan government.

The meeting was chaired by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Twenty countries and international organisations, including the United Nations, participated in the meet.

“India highlighted the fact that in order to achieve durable peace in Afghanistan, putting an end to terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens is an essential pre-requisite,” said a statement from the external affairs ministry.

Indian and Afghan officials have often blamed Pakistan-based terror groups for fomenting violence in Afghanistan. There is also growing concern in New Delhi over a spike in violence by the Taliban despite the group signing a deal with the US in February.

The meeting discussed issues related to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process and support of regional partners for an independent, unified, democratic and sovereign Afghanistan, the statement said.

“India, one of the largest development partners of Afghanistan, with a commitment of more than US $3 billion, reiterated the importance of an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process,” the statement said.

“India expressed support for a constitutional order in Afghanistan, which would protect the interest of all sections of Afghan society, including women, children and minorities,” it added.

Ghani thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for extending Covid-19-related assistance to Afghanistan and for hosting the Saarc leaders’ meeting for coordinated efforts in the region to overcome the pandemic.