India has expressed anguish over Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf’s refusal to attend a conference on Afghanistan, scheduled to be held in New Delhi on November 10

Government sources say it was very “unbecoming” of the Pakistan NSA to decline the invite extended by NSA Ajit Doval, through media. Sources also said the choice of words calling India the “spoiler” is also indicative of the tough stand they have taken.

NSA Yusuf could have declined the invite in an appropriate manner through diplomatic channels, but the fact that he chose to announce it like this is unfortunate and unbecoming, added the sources.

Speaking to Pakistani media, Yusuf on Tuesday said, “I won’t go. A spoiler cannot try to become a peacemaker.” Yusuf was speaking to the media following a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Secretary of Security Council Lt Gen. Viktor Makhmudov, who was in Islamabad for the Establishment of a Joint Security Commission with Pakistan. He has also been invited to the NSA meet in New Delhi.

The NSA-level dialogue on Afghanistan was the first-of-its-kind conference that India is slated to hold to discuss the situation in its neighbouring country after it was taken over by the Taliban in August. NSAs of China, Russia and Tajikistan, among others, have also been invited to the meet.

The invitations were sent out last month by the National Security Council Secretariat via the invitee countries’ embassy in New Delhi. India also plans to hold a dinner that will be hosted by Doval. The conference will discuss the threat of terrorism emanating from various groups in Afghanistan, besides the menace of drug trafficking, refugees, and connectivity at a time when the country is going through a gigantic economic and humanitarian crisis.

According to a report by The Hindu, Uzbekistan’s Gen. Makhmudov is expected to be present during the meeting, while India has received confirmation from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. China is, however, yet to confirm its presence primarily due to the stringent Covid-19 quarantine norms in place there. India is, however, trying to arrange a video call if no Chinese representative travels to India.

India had been planning to hold a meeting on Afghanistan earlier too, but the plan went into cold storage due to the pandemic and later due to the country’s takeover by the Taliban.

At the November 10 meeting, the Taliban haven’t been invited as the Indian government has decided not to rush into recognising the new dispensation.