India was and is an important stakeholder in Afghanistan and "will continue to stand with the people" there, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval said while addressing the fourth Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan at Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
"Special relationships with the people of Afghanistan built over centuries will guide India's approach. Nothing can change this," Mr Doval said, stressing an urgent need to find constructive ways to ensure peace and stability in the Islamic Republic ruled by the Taliban.
"There is a need for all present at the dialogue to enhance the capability of Afghanistan to counter-terrorism and terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional peace and security," he said.
The Indian official made the comment while addressing his counterparts from Tajikistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and China.
The two-day security dialogue on Afghanistan in Dushanbe began on Thursday. It is understood that Pakistan could not participate as NSA has not been appointed so far after formation of a new government led by Shehbaz Sharif.
Mr Doval also took the opportunity to make a point of how India has focused on infrastructure, connectivity and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan over the decades. Following the Taliban's takeover, India has already provided 17000 metric tonnes of wheat out of a total commitment of 50,000 MT, 5,00,000 doses of Covaxin, and 13 tons of essential life-saving medicines and winter clothing as well as 60 million doses of polio vaccine.
This meeting was a follow up from the 3rd Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan held in New Delhi in November 2021.
Taking forward the discussions in the Delhi Declaration, the NSA's discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the region. They highlighted the need to find constructive ways to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and combating risks from terrorism emanating from the region.
Mr Doval called for the need for representation of all sections of Afghan society, including women and minorities, towards nation building. "Women and youth are critical for the future of any society. Provision of education to girls and employment to women and youth will ensure productivity and spur growth. It will also have positive social impact including discouraging radical ideologies among youth," he stated.
NSA Doval took the opportunity to meet his counterparts from Iran, Tajikistan, Russia and other partners in the Dialogue on the sidelines of the meeting.
"Foremost priority should be right to life and a dignified living as well as protection of human rights," he stressed.