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”.
PR Tirumurti @ambtstirumurti speaks at meeting on “What can the Security Council do to support the peace process in Afghanistan”.
India calls for durable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. Watch here ⤵️ @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/qyoXUYEv16— India at UN, NY (@IndiaUNNewYork) November 20, 2020
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.