Reacting to Pakistan’s decision to not attend a regional security dialogue on the Afghan crisis, being hosted by Delhi on November 10, India said that it was “unfortunate but not surprising" and the move “reflected Islamabad’s mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its “protectorate".

Official sources told PTI on Friday that there has been an “overwhelming response" to India’s invitation to the dialogue and Russia, Iran and almost all central Asian countries have already confirmed their participation at the NSA-level meeting.

The sources said Pakistan’s comments against India on hosting of the dialogue are an unsuccessful attempt to deflect attention from its “pernicious role" in Afghanistan.

Pakistani NSA Moeed Yusuf on Tuesday ruled out his participation at the dialogue and said: “I will not go, a spoiler can’t be a peacemaker."

The sources said India sent an invitation to China as well and a formal response to it is awaited. India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is taking the initiative in hosting the dialogue to discuss the overall security situation in Afghanistan and to firm up a collective approach in the wake of the Taliban’s capture of power in that country on August 15.

Doval will chair the dialogue. Two earlier meetings in this format have been held in Iran in September 2018 and December 2019, the sources said, adding the third meeting in India could not be held earlier due to the pandemic.

“There has been an overwhelming response to India’s invitation. Central Asian countries as well as Russia and Iran have confirmed participation. The enthusiastic response is a manifestation of the importance attached to India’s role in regional efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan," said a source.

It is for the first time that all Central Asian countries and not just Afghanistan’s immediate land neighbours are participating in this format, the sources said. They said invitations for the dialogue have been extended to China and Pakistan too, and formal responses are awaited.

“However, Pakistan has indicated through the media that it will not attend. Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate, but not surprising. It reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate," the source said. “Pakistan has not attended the previous meetings of this format. Its media comments against India are an unsuccessful attempt to deflect attention from its pernicious role in Afghanistan," it said.

The sources said the high-level participation in next week’s meeting hosted by India reflects the widespread and growing concern of regional countries about the situation in Afghanistan and their desire to consult and coordinate with each other. India has an important role to play in this process, they said. Following the Taliban’s capture of power, India has been consistently flagging concerns over possible spill over of terrorist activities from Afghanistan to other countries in the region. India has also been consistently maintaining that it is important that the international community continues to insist on the fulfilment of goals outlined in the UN Security Council resolution 2593 on Afghanistan.

The UNSC resolution, adopted on August 30 under India’s presidency of the global body, talked about the need for upholding human rights in Afghanistan, demanded that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism and that a negotiated political settlement should be found out to the crisis.