Interaction with Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai
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The Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan H.E. Hekmat Karzai, as part of his recent visit to India, held a broad ranging interaction with members of the VIF faculty on 19 November 2015. The interaction spanned across a range of complex bilateral and regional issues, inter alia, the evolving situation in the war-torn Afghanistan, the dynamics of regional security, especially the post-drawdown scenario and the extent of external influences in the power dynamics of Afghanistan, the emerging global menace called the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), and the scope for enhanced bilateral economic and security cooperation between India and Afghanistan.

Setting down the framework of the ensuing interaction, General NC Vij, Director VIF, highlighted India’s concerns vis-à-vis the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban involving especially a few of India’s arch-adversaries and the emergence of ISIS in a region already littered with various terrorist networks. He sought to know if redlines were being drawn in the peace talks with the Taliban.

H.E. Hekmat Karzai, who led the first phase of talks with the Taliban on behalf of his government, spawned a regional approach to untying the knots in Afghanistan, especially involving countries such as Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. The role of Russia and Iran were also comprehensively discussed in this context. He assuaged the concerns of the Indian interlocutors that while Pakistan’s involvement is crucial for the talks to fructify, clear benchmarks were being set in negotiations with Islamabad, with eye especially on the deliverables. It was also highlighted during the discussions that China needs to leverage its influences with Pakistan to bring about moderating influences over the Taliban. It was further pointed out by one of the Indian interlocutors that Afghanistan could be the bulwark against the Daesh (another acronym for the ISIS) seeking to expand its influence in Central Asia. The minister, however, said Afghanistan currently is pivoting through three key transitions: political, economic, and security, the last understandably being more important than the first two. His visit to India, in parts, aimed at operationalizing the strategic partnership signed between India and Afghanistan in 2011, by putting up especially a mechanism for regular exchanges. Among other things, the minister emphasized Afghanistan needs to move away from a narcotics economy to an agro-based economy, an area where both India and Afghanistan can immensely cooperate with one another. Besides, H.E. Hekmat Karzai also underscored potential exists for further cooperation between the two countries across the entire spectrum, among others, political, security, trade, and most importantly, capacity building. As part of his concluding remarks, the minister reiterated Afghanistan values its friendship with India. The interaction was held amidst a high degree of cordiality in a frank and candid atmosphere.

General Ravi Sawhney, former DGMI, C.D. Sahay, former Chief R&AW, and a highly cogent group of former Ambassadors – PP Shukla, Kanwal Sibal, Rajiv Sikri, among others, were part of the team that interacted with H.E. Hekmat Karzai.

Event Date 
November 19, 2015
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