NEW DELHI: India and Australia on Saturday stressed that Afghanistan should not allow its soil to be used as a breeding ground for terrorist activities.

The separate calls from Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and his visiting Australian counterpart Marise Payne came on a day the world was observing the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the US on 11 September, 2001. The multiple coordinated attacks on several targets in the US including the US defence headquarters ie the Pentagon and the twin World Trade Towers in New York was masterminded by Al Qaeda ideologue Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was sheltered by the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

“Our approach is very similar,” Jaishankar said of India-Australia views on the security situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US led troops on 31 August, two decades after the launch of the war against terrorism in retaliation for the 9/11 terror strikes in the US.

Referring to a resolution passed by the UN Security Council during India’s presidency of the UNSC, Jaishankar said the resolution 2593 emphasised that Afghanistan “must not allow its soil to be used in any manner by anybody for terrorism.”

“But apart from that there were issues of concern about the inclusiveness of the dispensation, concerns about the treatment of women and minorities, matters related to travel of Afghans, issues regarding humanitarian assistance. It is an evolving situation, it was a good exchange of notes,” the Indian minister said.

New Delhi’s concerns stem from the fact that the Pakistan backed Taliban could allow Islamabad to use its territory to train anti India terrorists to target Kashmir and other parts of the country.

In her comments, Payne who is in India with the defence counterpart Peter Dutton for the first India-Australia “2+2″ dialogue said that Australia shares “very strong interest in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for the breeding or training of terrorists. And that is an abiding concern of the international community.”

Payne also sought a safe passage for Afghans and other nationals wishing to leave the country after the Pakistan-backed Taliban takeover on 15 August.

“We are very conscious of the impact of violence and breaches of human rights” in Afghanistan, Payne said in a reference to the treatment of women and girls by the Taliban. The comments come against the backdrop of news reports that the Taliban have stopped girls from going to school and discouraged women from working. The 33 member interim cabinet that was named on Tuesday in Afghanistan to administer the country does not have any women members and representation from Afghan ethnics groups other than the Pashtuns was very thin.

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