OPINION

Regional Mechanism Should Be Used to Contain Taliban if Kabul Falls, Ex-Indian Diplomat Says

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The international community should exploit regional dialogue formats to ensure the Taliban* do not interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan’s neighbors if the insurgent group eventually captures Kabul, former Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar told Sputnik.

In a phone call on Friday, US President Joe Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed the Taliban’s current offensive contradicts the movement’s claim to support a negotiated settlement. This comes a day after the Taliban said it controls 90% of Afghanistan’s borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.

“There is no alternative but to work with the Taliban in the larger interests of regional security and stability. The effort should be to encourage the Taliban to fulfill its assurances regarding non-interference in the neighboring countries’ affairs and disallowing terrorist activities from Afghan soil,” Bhadrakumar said. “They [the Taliban] are pragmatic.”

The US-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (QUAD-2) format, Bhadrakumar added, already provides a platform to “recalibrate in the event of a Taliban takeover.”

Afghanistan has witnessed a spike in violence as the Taliban stepped up military activities after international troops began withdrawing from the country in May, as part of the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February 2020. Fearing attacks and fleeing clashes, Afghan civilians and military recently crossed the border into Tajikistan.

Earlier this week, Moscow’s envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said Russian military drills in Tajikistan send a signal to Central Asian partners that everything is in order as Taliban made advances threatening neighboring states. Kabulov also said Russia’s 201st military base in Tajikistan will be on stand-by but will not take any proactive steps.

A member of Afghan Special Forces fires at Taliban after coming under heavy fire during the rescue mission of a police officer besieged at a check post, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2021.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed the belief that the Moscow format on Afghanistan conflict resolution is the most effective one for conducting peace talks.

Bhadrakumar served as a diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for three decades, half of which was devoted to assignments on the territories of the former Soviet Union and to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

* A terrorist group banned in Russia and many other states

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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