Russia stirs Afghanistan Pot

Russia’s Presidential Envoy on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov met the Pakistani Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary on January 29 to discuss the Afghan peace process. The Pakistani FM proudly told him (as per a Pakistani press release) that Pakistan is facilitating the ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban, which he hoped will lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue for peace. Kabulov, in turn, is reported to have appreciated Pakistan’s role as a facilitator in the Afghan peace process. 

Meanwhile, there are media reports that Russia will host a meeting of the Taliban with leading Afghan political figures from the opposition (including former President Karzai and Presidential hopeful Haneef Atmar) on February 5. The Taliban is reported to have confirmed its attendance. A Russian official is reported to have explained that at this sensitive stage, it was best to not have Afghan government officials at the table. Another official was quoted to have clarified that this is an initiative of the Afghan community in Russia and not that of the government. If the meeting actually takes place with the advertised attendance, there is no question that the Russian government would be fully involved in it.   

 

January 30, 2019

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About the Author

Ambassador PS Raghavan

Former Ambassador of India to Russia; Convener, National Security Advisory Board

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

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