Central Asian nations meet in Delhi to discuss Afghan crisis

Special envoys and senior officials of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries held their first meeting of the India-Central Asia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Afghanistan in New Delhi on Tuesday, March 7, where they exchanged views on a number of issues relating to the country including regional threats of terrorism, extremism, radicalization and drug trafficking.

The meeting was attended by representatives from India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Country representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) also attended the meeting.

In a joint statement issued by India’s ministry of external affairs after the meeting, the working group stated they exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan, including the political, security and the humanitarian situation.

They emphasized the importance of the formation of a “truly inclusive and representative political structure that respects the rights of all Afghans and ensures equal rights of women, girls and members of minority groups, including access to education.”

In addition they discussed regional threats of terrorism, extremism, radicalization and drug trafficking and also deliberated on ways to coordinate efforts to counter these threats.

According to the statement, the working group emphasized that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used for “sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist acts.” They also stated that no terrorist organizations including those designated by the United Nations Security Council should be provided sanctuary or allowed to use the territory of Afghanistan.

“The sides took note of the current humanitarian situation and agreed to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” the statement read.

In a separate statement, India’s foreign affairs ministry announced that in partnership with WFP it would deliver 20,000 metric tons of wheat for the people of Afghanistan through Chabahar Port in Iran.

“Moreover, India and UNODC also agreed to partner for the efforts to counter drug trafficking, including the efforts for rehabilitation of Afghan drug user population, especially the Afghan women and providing assistance in development of alternate livelihood opportunities,” the ministry’s statement read.

India’s decision to ship the aid to Afghanistan comes after New Delhi faced numerous hurdles last year in transporting about 40,000 tonnes of wheat through land routes via Pakistan.