• The third meeting of the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan, held in New Delhi, flagged some serious security challenges to the region.


  • The national security advisors (NSAs) of eight countries — India, Russia, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — met over Afghanistan.
  • The joint declaration of eight countries called for ensuring that Afghanistan must not turn into a haven for terror activities.
  • The declaration said, “Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist acts.”
  • There has been a rising concern about Afghanistan becoming the epicentre of sending out terror tremors across South Asia and Central Asia since the Taliban took over the country in mid-August.
  • The Taliban have shared an intricate relationship with the Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), known to sponsor and train terrorists, fomenting trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Another significant concern has been the Taliban regime’s exclusive nature that rejects all non-Islamic practices and beliefs in Afghanistan.
  • The joint declaration made it a point, saying, “Inclusion of all sections of the society in the administrative and political structure is imperative for the successful national reconciliation process in the country.”


  • The Delhi Declaration matters as it indicates several subtle changes in India’s policy and equation with the country and its neighbourhood.
  • The fact that NSA Ajit Doval held a meeting of his counterparts from seven other countries spells out a clear shift in India’s position on Afghanistan from development-oriented to counter-terrorism for securing India’s domestic security concerns in immediacy.
  • India had planned it to be a 10-nation declaration. But the NSAs of China and Pakistan backed out from the meeting after they were invited by India. Pakistan and China appeared to claim a victory of sorts, at least in diplomacy, when the Taliban toppled the democratically elected government earlier this year.
  • However, unlike Pakistan and China, the Taliban have shown more openness to India’s efforts towards establishing normalcy in Afghanistan. That the Taliban, which have been inimical towards India historically, supported the move hints that the back-channel of communication between the group and the Indian government is still open and functioning in real-time.
  • Russia sounded a note of caution after signing the Delhi Declaration. Russia issued a separate statement in which it appeared soft on the Taliban over terrorism. Its separate statement chose to omit the reference expressing concern over the possibility of Afghanistan becoming “a safe haven for global terrorism”
  • Russia also looked to mellow down its stand taken in the joint declaration over the rights of women, children and minority communities under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, radicalistaion and drug trafficking.
  • Pakistan could claim it as another point scored over India. It already boasts of hosting bigger global players in the US and China than the seven countries that India hosted over the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.


  • No country will be able to provide the security cover and platform for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan like the US did.
  • With China and Pakistan appropriating the entire strategic space vacated by the US, there seems to be very little elbow room for India to operate and secure its strategic space there.
  • The Delhi Declaration’s intentions can translate into action only if we change our strategy to a more emphatic and assertive one.
  • But that needs superior planning and efficient execution with diplomatic finesse and military precision.

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