India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Wednesday made a previously unannounced visit to Afghanistan for talks on strategic issues with the leadership in Kabul against the backdrop of a spike in violence blamed on the Taliban.
The Afghan national security council said Doval and his counterpart Hamdullah Mohib held “extensive conversations on issues of strategic mutual interest, including on synchronising efforts to combat terrorism and build peace”. It didn’t give further details.
Doval, who is on a two-day visit, also met President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul and “discussed cooperation in countering terrorism and strengthening a regional consensus on the Afghan peace process”, Afghan chargé d’affaires Tahir Qadiry said on Twitter.
The visit comes at a time when the troubled Afghan peace process between the government and the Taliban is very delicately poised, especially in the wake of a sharp surge in violent attacks blamed on the militant group.
A growing number of civilians in influential positions and human rights activists have been assassinated across Afghanistan in recent weeks, and Kabul and other major cities have been witnessing almost daily bomb attacks. Countries in the region are closely watching the situation to see if the incoming Biden administration in the US makes any major changes in the approach to Afghanistan.
There was no official word from the Indian side on Doval’s visit.
India has consistently backed an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process and said that the gains made in the war-torn country in the past two decades must be preserved. New Delhi has also said any solution in Kabul must ensure that Afghan territory isn’t used for terrorism directed against India.
The Afghan NSA met US chargé d’affaires Ross Wilson on Tuesday and discussed the ongoing peace efforts, reforms in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and joint efforts related to the security situation.
Mohib has also been travelling to countries in the region to shore up support for Afghanistan in the peace process. Last month, he travelled to Azerbaijan and Iran for talks on the regional security situation.While in Tehran, Mohib met his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani and foreign minister Javad Zarif and held wide-ranging discussions about enhancing bilateral relations on security, trade, economic and transit issues. Mohib also told his Iranian interlocutors of the need to boost neighbourly relations and “combat common threats based on mutual confidence”.