Ques. What was the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue? Examine its main accomplishments and the challenges it faces.
- The Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan, hosted by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in 2021, brought together security czars of Russia, Iran, and the five Central Asian nations to brainstorm on the serious situation since the Taliban’s takeover and find ways to stem instability from spilling across Afghanistan’s borders.
- The official account of Delhi Dialogue highlighted that the meet “exceeded India’s expectations” by generating “complete unanimity” of all eight attending countries on the way forward in Afghanistan.
- According to Sujan R. Chinoy, a proactive approach has enabled India to actively contribute to the task of building a regional consensus on the future of Afghanistan.
- The meeting was followed by a crucial statement penned by India and the seven attending countries called as Delhi Declaration on Afghanistan, which calls against use of Afghanistan’s territory for sheltering, training, planning, or financing any terrorist acts. This concerns the security of all these countries that lie in the Afghan neighbourhood.
- The Dialogue further calls for Collective cooperation against the menace of radicalization, extremism, separatism and drug trafficking in the region as well as formation of an open and truly inclusive government that represents the will of the people of Afghanistan.
- It also highlights that United Nations has a central role to play in Afghanistan, its continued presence must be preserved.
- Further, the Dialogue underlines ensuring that fundamental rights of women, children and minority communities are not violated, who are the most vulnerable population in a divided Afghanistan.
- According to Avinash Paliwal, Delhi decalartion had two key takeaways:
- One, the dialogue seeks to message those Taliban factions marginalised in Kabul that checking the power of Sirajuddin Haqqani and, by corollary, Pakistan, is essential for their survival.
- Two, counter to intuition, Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian Republics are more worried about the situation than India.
- The dialogue is application of Kautilyan concept of invoking akranda (friends in the rear) in the form of Russia and Central Asian countries to combat any mischief by Taliban and Pakistan (Ari) in Afghanistan against the countries.
- According to Sreeram Chaulia, the India-hosted meeting revealed the geopolitical fault lines that have prevented a unified pan-regional response to Afghanistan’s multiple cascading crises.
- According to Happymon Jacob, neither Russia nor the Central Asian states have the ability nor the desire to pursue a role in Afghanistan autonomous from the larger Chinese or Pakistani designs there. Both Pakistan and China didn’t include the dialogue while they did participate in the “Troika Plus” dialogue on Afghanistan involving China, Russia, Pakistan, and the United States.
- Further, Iran has limited interests in Afghanistan and is unlikely to go against the Chinese plan for the region, especially in the broader context of being under US sanctions due to its nuclear programme.
- India could find itself in a catch22 situation as engagement with the Taliban that may lead Pakistan to up the ante in Jammu and Kashmir, while failure to do the same may cause Taliban to meddle in India’s security.
- Another major issue is the lack of tangible impact of summits like Delhi Dialogue on Afghanistan which have been ongoing for a while now. Chaulia argues that these will be impactful only if they add up to producing regionally agreed governance conditionalities and modalities for humanitarian assistance, reporting and sharing information on the Taliban government’s conduct and administration, and tracking activities of the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) and other terrorist fighters thriving on Afghan soil and across the porous border in Pakistan.
- According to Harsh v. Pant, India is in a unique position to bridge the gulf on Afghanistan. New Delhi remains one of the few powers that can manage to find some space to manoeuvre between Russian and Iranian priorities, on the one hand, and western anxieties, on the other.
- The Afghanistan challenge is a long-term one and it will require sustained leadership as well as strategic patience. According to Happymon Jacob, for New Delhi, the options are to coordinate its Afghan policy with Moscow ,Washington and the various western capitals while steadfastly engaging the Taliban.
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