Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf not to attend Indian meet on Afghanistan

Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf not to attend Indian meet on Afghanistan

New Delhi stalling regional peace process, says Moeed Yusuf

Calling India a “spoiler” in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf said he would not accept the Modi government’s invitation to the meeting of regional security chiefs being organised in Delhi next week.

“I won’t go,” said Mr. Yusuf in response to questions in Islamabad about Pakistan’s decision. “A spoiler cannot try to become a peacemaker,” he added.

Mr. Yusuf was speaking to the Pakistani media after a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Secretary of the Security Council Lt. Gen. Viktor Makhmudov, who was in Islamabad for the Establishment of a Joint Security Commission with Pakistan, and has also been invited to the conference in Delhi.

Diplomatic sources said Gen. Makhmudov is likely to attend the conference on Afghanistan and India has also received confirmations from other invitees including Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The Chinese government has not yet confirmed that they will send a Security official to the conference, mainly because of strict quarantine regulations in place there, an official told The Hindu, and India is pursuing a videoconference appearance if no Chinese delegate travels to Delhi.

Iran, which did not include India in a meeting of Foreign Ministers from Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, and is believed to have taken External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s participation in a quadrilateral with Israel-UAE-U.S. amiss, “welcomed the invitation”, said a source, indicating it is likely to send a delegate.

Mr. Yusuf also blamed India for holding up regional security processes, while declining India’s invitation.

“I think the region’s obstacles are in front of you, there is no need for debate on this. On one hand is India […] unfortunately [because of] the government’s behaviour and ideology there, I don’t see how this [peace] process will move forward — not just for Pakistan but the region,” Mr. Yusuf was quoted saying by the Dawn Newspaper.

The Ministry of External Affairs declined a request for a response to Mr. Yusuf’s remarks.

Invitations to the regional conference on November 10-11 were sent out in October by the National Security Council Secretariat through each countries’ embassy in Delhi. Officials said plans for the two day conference were in full swing, including for a dinner event hosted by Mr. Doval. The sessions would discuss regional and shared threats of terrorism emanating from groups in Afghanistan, as well as the problem of drug trafficking, refugees, and connectivity amidst a growing economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. India’s plans to provide wheat and other assistance, which were discussed between MEA officials and the Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi on the side-lines of the Moscow format conference last month have also been held up, pending possible discussions on sending the assistance by road through Pakistan.

The government has not invited any officials from the acting Taliban government in Kabul, which has not been formally recognised by any country. However, officials did not rule out the presence of Afghans associated with the dialogue process based in Doha, where the Indian Ambassador to Qatar held a meeting with Taliban negotiators in August.

Significantly, a delegation led by Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov and his delegation met with Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund and other ministers in Kabul over the weekend to discuss the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, as well as other connectivity projects, but it remains to be seen if India will bring up the project during the NSA conference.

The invitations sent by the NSCS to both Pakistan and China had raised eyebrows given deep tensions India has with both neighbours at present. However, Mr. Doval and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar have in the past attended conferences on Afghanistan with their counterparts from Beijing and Islamabad at other locations.

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