India on Friday participated in the Arria Formula Meeting of the United Nations Security Council on “What can the Security Council do to support the peace process in Afghanistan”.
Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti was invited as the incoming member at the UNSC in January 2021.
While India decided to participate in the discussions on the crucial matter of Afghan peace process, the Indian envoy at the outset expressed “reservations” on the Arria format.
“While our reservations on the Arria format of meetings of the Security Council is on record, I am happy to participate in this important meeting on Afghanistan,” he said.
Under the Arria format, any UNSC member state can bring up an issue for discussion. An official said that earlier there had been some attempt by countries to politicise this formula and try to use it for narrow political ends. India does not want any country to misuse this formula, the official said.
Pakistan had once pushed for UNSC members to use the Arria formula to raise the issue of Kashmir. But it didn’t come through. Therefore, the reservation expressed by India.
Participating at the meeting, the Indian envoy slammed Pakistan for its continued role in providing safe havens to terrorists and creating obstacles for India to access Afghanistan.
He called for the Security Council to “unequivocally” speak against violence and terrorist forces and act against terrorist “sanctuaries” and “safe havens”.
“For durable peace in Afghanistan, we have to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line. The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team under the Al-Qaeda/Da’esh Sanctions Committee has also highlighted the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. For violence to end in Afghanistan, these terrorist supply chains must be broken,” said Ambassador Tirumurti.
He also noted that Covid-19 has hit Afghanistan in the midst of a difficult political transition and an intensifying conflict, while emphasising that only an “inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled peace efforts can bring long term peace and stability. However, we are concerned about the increase in violence and continuing loss of Afghan lives.”
“It is our view that peace process and violence cannot go hand in hand, and we call for immediate comprehensive ceasefire,” he said.
The Indian representative highlighted the role of India in rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Without naming Pakistan, Ambassador Tirumurti spoke of the obstacles that Pakistan has created for India in accessing Afghanistan.
“To tide over the artificial and political obstacles of non-permit of full transit rights to Afghanistan for their products to reach India and Indian products to reach Afghanistan, we operationalised airfreight corridors that have seen more than 1000 flights. It is important for Afghanistan to have access to high seas,” he said.
He added, “It is important to ensure that the issue of full transit rights to Afghanistan is not used by States to extract a political price from Afghanistan. The international community should discourage medieval mentalities and work towards the removal of artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan. It should ensure all transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements operate without any hindrance. India remains committed to working with the international community towards achieving this shared objective.”
Further reminding the gathering that India has had to pay a heavy price for investing in Afghanistan’s peace and stability, he said, “It is a testimony to our unwavering resolve to Afghanistan’s peace and stability that we have invested both with sweat and blood for the development of Afghanistan. India has sacrificed many lives, including our diplomats, in the call of duty while serving in Afghanistan.”
Apart from seeking peace for the country, India has always maintained that it has to be equitable and sustainable and that is only possible if women’s rights are guaranteed. This is one of the primary reasons why India has been wary about talks with the Taliban as well.
“The progress achieved so far is hard-won. The future which we seek should have a place for every Afghan and should have space for everyone’s aspiration. In particular, India is convinced that the rights of women need to be strongly protected. Gender mainstreaming and safeguards are integral to the future of Afghanistan and we appreciate the remarks of the President of Afghanistan in this context. The rights of the minorities and the vulnerable need to be safeguarded. Respect for human rights and democracy needs to be ingrained in any framework that a future Afghanistan designs for itself,” said the Indian envoy.