External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Wednesday (local time) appreciated the United States for doing enormous good in Afghanistan but said that “those gains are not being reflected in general discourse”.
“An enormous good was done in Afghanistan. Today I don’t see that reflected in discourse. . . . Now how do we maintain those gains? To me, that’s the big challenge,” the External Affairs Minister said during a conversation at Council on Foreign Relations here with former US ambassador to India Frank G. Wisner.
“I have visited Afghanistan and I have seen that the Afghans have left the Taliban-dominated areas and re-habited the areas under the US control. So how would you protect the gains of pluralism in different ways– including civil liberties, women’s rights, and child education? And that is a big challenge,” the minister said.
He added, “We do understand the compulsions on the part of the United States.”
The minister further touched upon the present scenario of turmoil ongoing in the war-torn country especially after the breakdown of the peace talks between the US and Taliban earlier this month, despite months of continuous negotiations on the two sides.
“The US had an 18-year military commitment in Afghanistan. And frankly, I can’t think any other country is capable of such a commitment,” Jaishankar said in response to a question on Afghanistan being of huge strategic importance for India and how does the country balances in its north-west frontiers in the wake of the US negotiations with the Taliban.
Following the breakdown of talks between the US and Taliban, the Trump administration had further called for a pull out of nearly 5000 troops from Afghanistan.
Addressing a query on the American troops removal amid such volatile conditions, Jaishankar noted, “So, the first point I would make is even if the Americans are pulling out or negotiating, I think, countries like us should appreciate the US for the work it has done to stabilise that region. That has been for the larger benefit of the region.”
“I think the best bet will be to trust the Afghans more. They have capabilities there,” he stressed.