As US eyes Afghan exit, India talks to key players

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The Indian Express has learned that the government has been “working behind the scenes” in recent months, when it became clear that Washington is negotiating with the Taliban to allow them to leave Afghanistan.

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FROM PASHTUNS to Hazaras and Tajiks, New Delhi has quietly opened channels of communication with key Afghan leaders that affect communities and factions as uncertainty looms over Afghanistan amid signs that the United States is withdrawing from the country plagued by the struggles, said sources of The Indian Express.

“We have started to participate independently with all the main political actors and factions, since we have important economic assets in Afghanistan and we need to secure those interests,” the sources said. Some of these players have visited India in recent weeks and have met with “those who matter in the Indian system,” they said.

The Indian Express has learned that the government has been “working behind the scenes” in recent months, when it became clear that Washington is negotiating with the Taliban to allow them to leave Afghanistan.

Last November, India made clear its intention to share the table with the Taliban, when it sent two of its most experienced senior diplomats with experience in the region: the former envoy from India to Pakistan, TCA Raghavan and the former envoy of India, to Afghanistan Amar Sinha, for the Conversations about the Moscow format organized by Russia.

Although he maintained the negability by stating that his participation was at an “unofficial” level, it was clear that Delhi could read what was written on the wall and wanted to be “in the room” when the Taliban were negotiating.

Among the main actors with whom Delhi has recently committed is the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, who is emerging to be a key player in the peace and reconciliation process.

Fifteen candidates, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, executive director Abdullah Abdullah, former National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, former director of the National Security Directorate Rahmatullah Nabil and the leader of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar have registered to stand for the presidency.

It is likely that some of these candidates have been detected by Delhi. “We may not have been visible, but we have been active,” the sources said.
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Delhi has also been engaged with major international stakeholders (the United States, Russia, Iran and several countries in Central Asia) in recent weeks. The sources said that he is now planning to have a structured dialogue with the Chinese interlocutors as well, who have economic interests in Afghanistan. “We are going to discuss the future of Afghanistan with China as well,” the sources said. However, Delhi has not yet approached Pakistan to discuss Afghanistan.

It is known that India has convinced international players that it will not favor any “interim agreement”, as is being pressed by the US. UU., And I would like the presidential elections to be held on July 20, according to the current calendar.

The sources said that this was transmitted to Zalmay Khalilzad, the US interlocutor with the Taliban. “We have told him that existing political and constitutional structures must also be safeguarded,” the source said.