He said India's immediate focus was on the evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan and that most of the Indian nationals have been able to leave Kabul in August.
As a neighbour of Afghanistan, India is naturally concerned about the recent changes in that country and their implications for the region, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Monday.
Referring to a recent resolution on Afghanistan by the UN Security Council, he said it addressed the main pending issues and demanded that Afghan territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts.
The foreign secretary was speaking at the sixth JP Morgan ‘India Investor Summit’.
“The situation in our neighbourhood, particularly in Afghanistan, and with China on our eastern borders reminds us that while the new realities are making themselves felt, traditional security challenges remain,” he said.
Talking about the eastern Ladakh standoff, Shringla said Chinese attempts over the last year to unilaterally alter the status quo in the region have seriously disturbed peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
“We have made it clear to the Chinese side that peace and tranquillity in border areas is essential for development of our relationship. Development of India-China relationship can only be based on ‘three mutuals’ — mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests,” he said.
On Afghanistan, the foreign secretary said New Delhi is concerned about implications of the recent developments for India and the region.
“As an immediate neighbour, we are naturally concerned about the recent changes within Afghanistan and their implications for us and the region,” he said.
He said India’s immediate focus was on the evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan and that most of the Indian nationals have been able to leave Kabul in August.
“A number of Afghans, including minorities, who wanted to travel to India, have also been able to do so. However, this process could not be completed due to the security situation at the airport,” he said.
“Resumption of flights from Kabul airport is, therefore, a priority. We are closely monitoring the unfolding situation,” Shringla added.
He also mentioned the UN Security Council resolution 2593 on Afghanistan that was adopted on August 30 under India’s presidency of the global body, and noted that it comprehensively addressed the main pending issues relating to that country.
“The resolution demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts; and specifically refers to terrorist individuals proscribed by the UN Security Council, including the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad,” Shringla said.
The foreign secretary said India is also monitoring developments related to the humanitarian needs of Afghanistan.
“In UNDP’s assessment, there is an imminent threat of poverty levels rising in Afghanistan. There is also a threat of an imminent drought and a food security crisis,” he said.
“It is important for the humanitarian assistance providers to be given unrestricted and direct access to Afghanistan,” the foreign secretary said.
He also underlined the need to ensure that the distribution of humanitarian assistance is done in a “non-discriminatory manner” to all sections of the Afghan society.
“India’s approach to Afghanistan has been guided by our civilisational relationship with the Afghan people. We have extended over USD 3 billion as development assistance for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
The foreign secretary said India has undertaken over 500 developmental projects spread across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
“These initiatives have earned us tremendous goodwill in the country. Our friendship with the Afghan people will continue to guide our approach in the future,” he added.