India and five Central Asian countries on Sunday pitched for providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and asserted that Afghan territory must not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist activities.
At the third India-Central Asia Dialogue, they also reiterated that providing safe havens to terror groups, use of terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism, terror financing and dissemination of a radical ideology go against the basic principles of humanity and international relations.
Referring to regional connectivity initiatives, the countries asserted that such projects should be based on the principles of transparency, broad participation, local priorities, financial sustainability and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
The dialogue, hosted by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, was attended by his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
A joint statement said the ministers stressed that perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with the principle of "extradite or prosecute".
On the situation in Afghanistan, the ministers reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasising the need for respecting sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs.
The ministers discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to continue to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
"The ministers reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) which unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups," the statement said.
It said the ministers also agreed to continue close consultations on the situation in Afghanistan.
"While taking note of the outcome document of the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue of November 10, the ministers noted that there is a broad 'regional consensus' on the issues related to Afghanistan, which includes the formation of a truly representative and inclusive government," the joint statement said.
It also talked about the UN's role in Afghanistan as well as the need for providing immediate humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people besides preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups.
On combating terrorism, the ministers called for the early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
"They called on the international community to strengthen UN-led global counter-terrorism cooperation and fully implement the relevant UNSC resolutions, Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and FATF standards," the statement said.
The foreign ministers welcomed the proposal to include Chabahar port within the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and expressed interest in cooperation on issues related to the development and strengthening of regional connectivity in Central and South Asia.
In his opening remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar pitched for finding ways to help the Afghan people.
"We all share deep-rooted historical and civilisational ties with Afghanistan. Our concerns and objectives in that country are similar," Jaishankar said.
He listed a truly inclusive and representative government, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, ensuring unhindered humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities as key priorities in Afghanistan.
"We must find ways of helping the people of Afghanistan," he said.
Jaishankar said India is committed to take its ties with Central Asia to the next level.
He floated a 'four C' approach focusing on commerce, capacity enhancement, connectivity and contacts to further expand the cooperation between the two sides.
"Our meeting today comes amid a rapidly changing global economic and political situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an enormous setback to global health and to global economy," Jaishankar said.