Invitations have been extended to China and Pakistan too, and formal responses are awaited
New Delhi: With Pakistan recently announcing its boycott of India’s forthcoming NSA-level “Delhi Regional Security Dialogue” conference on Afghanistan that will be held in New Delhi on November 10, even its powerful all-weather friend and benefactor China is yet to confirm its participation. But Russia, Iran and some Central Asian nations have already confirmed participation, government sources said on Friday. The sources also said Pakistan’s decision not to attend was “unfortunate, but not surprising”, and that it has played a “pernicious” role in Afghanistan which it sees as its “protectorate”.
A source said: “Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate, but not surprising. It reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate. Pakistan has not attended the previous meetings of this format. Its media comments against India are an unsuccessful attempt to deflect attention from its pernicious role in Afghanistan.”
The sources added that there has been an “overwhelming” response to India’s invitation and this is the first time all Central Asian countries, not just those which are Afghanistan’s immediate land neighbours, are participating in this format, in which the last two conferences were held in Iran in 2018 and 2019.
It may be recalled that earlier this week, Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf had snubbed India and declared he would not travel to New Delhi to attend the conference, while accusing India of being a “spoiler” in Afghanistan who “cannot try to be a peacemaker”. The word “spoiler” is Pakistan’s regularly-used expression for India when it comes to Afghanistan. Also, Pakistan and China have also been working in close tandem on all issues, including the situation in Afghanistan, where the Pakistan-backed Taliban captured power in a lightning military sweep in mid-August this year.
Meanwhile, a government source said on Friday: “India will be hosting the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan on November 10. The meeting will be at the NSA level. National security adviser Ajit Doval will chair (the meeting) … There has been an overwhelming response to India’s invitation. Central Asian countries as well as Russia and Iran have confirmed participation. Invitations have been extended to China and Pakistan too, and formal responses are awaited. However, Pakistan has indicated through the media that it will not attend.”
The source further said: “The enthusiastic response is a manifestation of the importance attached to India’s role in regional efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan. The high-level participation in next week’s meeting hosted by India reflects the widespread and growing concern of regional countries about the situation in Afghanistan and their desire to consult and coordinate with each other. India has an important role to play in this process.”
Two earlier meetings in this format were held in Iran in September 2018 and December 2019. The third meeting in India could not be held earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sources pointed out.