India has stressed that elected representatives in Afghanistan should have the leading voice in deciding the future of their country, noting that New Delhi does not believe in advancing prescriptions, as the US-Taliban peace process remains stalled.
First Secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Vidisha Maitra said India welcomes the opportunities created by the various initiatives towards a formal peace process at the international, regional and domestic levels.
"While the international community must be united in supporting these efforts, we do not believe in advancing prescriptions. In any country, it is the people of that country and the elected representatives of that country who should have the leading voice in deciding their future - this has always been one of India's guiding principles in its engagement with Afghanistan," Maitra said in the UN General Assembly on the Situation in Afghanistan.
She said Afghanistan marked a century of independence this year, which has been equally significant in terms of developments relating to peace efforts and the consolidation of the democratic process.
Maitra noted that the UN General Assembly draft resolution under consideration rightly emphasises the importance of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process and also reiterates the importance of safeguarding the achievements of the last two decades, especially the gains made in pluralism, including civil liberties, women's rights and children's education.
"We believe that only durable solution will be one which has and a political mandate; which will ensure stability; and most importantly, which will not leave ungoverned spaces for terrorists and their proxies to exploit, she said.
Maitra further said that according to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index released a few weeks ago, Afghanistan lost more lives to terrorism that any other country in 2018, with over 7000 deaths. She voiced concern over the deepening linkages between organised crime, narcotics trafficking and terror financing.
Underlining India's long-standing historical, cultural, and now economic, developmental, political relationship with Afghanistan, she said New Delhi's development partnership with Kabul has a focus on institutional capacity building, health, education, and empowerment of women and youth, always keeping Afghan needs and priorities at the forefront.
Building reliable connectivity for landlocked Afghanistan is a key component of our regional partnership," she said.
"In undertaking those endeavours, we are mindful that all such projects should respect State sovereignty and territorial integrity and be based on universally recognised international norms, transparency, rule of law, principles of financial responsibility, and ecological standards, Maitra said.
In this spirit, India is engaged in various connectivity projects in the region, including the Chabahar Port project and the direct India-Afghanistan air-freight corridor, she said.
Commending the Afghan people, the government and the security forces for the conduct of Presidential elections on September 28 amidst extremely challenging circumstances, Maitra said the enthusiastic participation of the Afghan people, including women, in the process, despite threats, intimidation and violence, reflects their desire and faith in democratic governance and rejection of the evil forces of terror and violence.
"Whatever may be the result of the elections, we hope that they contribute to the strengthening of an inclusive democratic system in Afghanistan," she said.
The US and the Taliban had agreed on draft peace plan, but the process was suspended by President Donald Trump following the killing of an American soldier in Kabul in September in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.
Afghanistan's UN envoy Adela Raz said the government of Afghanistan welcomes all regional and international peace efforts which align with an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and it helps to facilitate the direct talks with the Taliban.
"In line with international norms, we firmly believe in the principles of respecting sovereignty and state-to-state relations and holding these values central to the success of our peace efforts.
On the security situation, she further said that the Taliban and other transnational terrorist groups have continued to be relentless and violent to create terror and fear.
"Among the persistent challenges that continue to threaten the peace and security of Afghanistan are terrorism and the presence of regional and transnational terrorist groups, including Taliban, ISIL and Al Qaeda affiliates," she said.