India expresses concern over violence in Afghanistan

·2-min read

New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) India on Thursday described the targeted killing of journalists and civil society members in Afghanistan as an attempt to suppress freedom of expression and pitched for an 'immediate and comprehensive' ceasefire to lay the ground for a meaningful peace process in the country.

Expressing deep concern over the killings, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India stands with the people of Afghanistan in their journey towards peace and these attacks are contrary to the spirit of the peace process and should immediately stop.

Asked about National Security Adviser Ajit Doval's two-day visit to Afghanistan, Srivastava said at a media briefing that his discussions with Afghan leaders focused on bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process.

Doval called on President Ashraf Ghani, and held talks with Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar and former president Hamid Karzai.

'In the past few weeks, we have received inputs of several attacks on journalists and civil society activists in Afghanistan. The targeted killing of journalists and civil society members, aimed at suppressing the freedom of expression and informed discussion on critical issues related to peace and governance, is of deep concern,' Srivastava said.

He said people of Afghanistan long for a peaceful future and India stands with them.

'An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire will lay the ground for a meaningful peace process to establish a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Afghanistan. India stands with the people of Afghanistan in their journey towards peace,' he said.

The MEA spokesperson said India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan and it supports all efforts to bring peace and stability there.

'The peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled. India is an important stakeholder and we look towards a peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan,' he said.

India has already invested over USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

In November, India announced a new package of over 100 high impact community projects worth USD 80 million for Afghanistan at a global conference on Afghanistan.

India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February last year. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains on Washington's 18-year war with Taliban in the country.

India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any 'ungoverned spaces' where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country, including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future. PTI MPB AAR AAR