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'Terror Safe Havens' Across Durand Line Must End, 'Transit Rights' Respected: India on Afghanistan

© AFP 2023 / JAVED TANVEERAfghan Border Police personnel keep watch during an ongoing battle between Pakistani and Afghan Border forces near the Durand line at Spin Boldak, in southern Kandahar province on May 5, 2017
Afghan Border Police personnel keep watch during an ongoing battle between Pakistani and Afghan Border forces near the Durand line at Spin Boldak, in southern Kandahar province on May 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
India’s veiled attack on Pakistan at the UN Security Council meeting comes two days after the first visit of Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to Afghanistan, where he assured President Ashraf Ghani that Islamabad would do all it could to support the peace process.

India’s Permanent Representative to United Nations (UN), Ambassador T. S. Tirumurti has called for a stop to be put to “terrorist safe havens” operating across the Durand Line (the Afghanistan-Pakistan border) in order to achieve durable peace in Afghanistan, in remarks implicitly directed at Pakistan.

“For durable peace in Afghanistan, we have to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line. The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team under the Al-Qaeda/Da’esh Sanctions Committee has also highlighted the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan,” Tirumurti said in his remarks at the Arria Format Meeting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) themed “What can the Security Council do to support the peace process in Afghanistan".

​The Durand Line is the the 2,640-kilometre (1,640-mile) border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The remarks by the Indian diplomat come on the heels of announcement by the US that it would be drawing down its troop presence in Afghanistan by Christmas.

Tirumurti further called upon the Security Council to “speak unequivocally against violence and terrorist forces”, as he called for a “comprehensive and immediate ceasefire” in Afghanistan.

Remove ‘Artificial’ Trade Barriers

The Indian diplomat underlined in his speech that “full transit rights” on trade guaranteed to Afghanistan must operate “without hindrance”.

“… it is important to ensure that the issue of full transit rights to Afghanistan is not used by States to extract a political price from Afghanistan,” remarked Tirumurti.

“It (the international community) should ensure all transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements operate without any hindrance,” he added.

India has been routing its exports to Afghanistan through the “Air Freight Corridor” as well as Chabahar Port in Iran, as it is unable to bypass Pakistan in moving goods through land routes. Frayed political ties between New Delhi and Islamabad are said to be a factor prompting India to look for other routes to reach Afghanistan, even though the Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) of 2010 guarantees the facilitation of goods from India to Afghanistan and vice-versa through the India-Pakistan Wagah border.

 “To tide over the artificial and political obstacles of non-permit of full transit rights to Afghanistan for their products to reach India and Indian products to reach Afghanistan, we operationalised air freight corridors that has seen more than 1,000 flights,” Tirumurti reminded.

He also highlighted that India recently made good on its pledge to deliver 75,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan, which was routed through the Iranian port.

While making his remarks, India’s UN Representative reiterated New Delhi’s reservations about the Arria Format, under which any UN Security Council member can bring up an issue for discussion. Much to India’s chagrin, Pakistan has in the past tried to initiate a debate on the Kashmir dispute under the Arria Format rules.

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