November 16, 2001
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Form new govt in Afghanistan through consensus: India

Rezaul H Laskar in New Delhi

India on Friday asserted that all international efforts aimed at peacekeeping and government formation in Afghanistan should be evolved through consensus and in accordance with the views of the Afghan people.

India's ongoing consultations with the Group of 21 Nations and other key interlocutors would give shape to the efforts to put in place a new administration in Kabul, External Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said.

"The full contours of this process will emerge on the basis of these discussions. India is approaching the process with an open mind," she told reporters, referring to reports about the possible deployment in Afghanistan of peacekeeping troops from Muslim nations.

"India had no objections to the deployment of such a peacekeeping force provided it is constituted on the basis of consensus," Rao said.

"You can't put a peacekeeping force on the ground unless there is consensus and acceptance of the country involved. The views of the Afghan people have to be taken on board," he said.

The government, she said, had not taken any decision on involving Indian troops in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.

New Delhi did not want the fast-paced military developments in Afghanistan to create a political vacuum, she said.

"The international community should move resolutely to establish interim arrangements," she said.

"India is looking forward to a broad-based, multi-ethnic government that doesn't have terrorism or extremism as its governing ideal," she said, adding that the Northern Alliance alone should not decide on the final shape of a new government.

"Obviously, the Northern Alliance will be a prominent player in the process of forming government. But there should not be violence or civilian casualties and international rules should be adhered to," she said.

India's demand for greater involvement in deciding Afghanistan's future led to an invitation to attend the meeting of the Group of 21 Nations, being held Friday in New York. SK Lambah, India's special envoy on Afghanistan, is representing the country at the meeting.

"This is a more inclusive group that will discuss options available in a post-conflict Afghanistan," she said.

Rao emphasised that the global community should focus on economic reconstruction and providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, who had suffered through two decades of war as well as oppression at the hands of the Taleban regime.

"The first priority should be the restoration of peace and stability," she said.

The Indian government, Rao said, was looking at 'various options' with regarding to establishing a diplomatic presence in Kabul. She, however, said no decision had been taken to reopen the Indian embassy in Kabul, which has been closed since 1992.

Indo-Asian News Service

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