Monday, January 19, 2009

Afghan President Visits India

India has maintained intimate relations with Afghanistan since earliest times. The two countries have close cultural links. It was quite evident with the recent visit of the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who expressed solidarity with India in the wake of November29, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. He joined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in castigating Pakistan for reneging on its commitment not to allow the misuse of its territory for terrorist activities.
Without directly naming Islamabad, the two leaders called for full compliance with bilateral, multilateral and international obligations of States to prevent terrorism in any manner originating from territories under their control since terrorism emanates from the sanctuaries and training camps and the sustenance and support received by the terrorist groups.
Extensive Talks
Karzai, who was on his second visit to New Delhi within six months, held extensive talks with the India Prime Minister on a wide range of issues, but the focus was on the Mumbai terror attacks, carried out by elements in Pakistan with the support of its official agencies. The two leaders noted with concern that the fledging civilian Government in Pakistan had failed to do anything against the ISI even when it became evident that the spy agency had masterminded July7, 2008 suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Afghanistan is now facing a serious threat to threat to its democratic existence from the fundamentalist Taliban. That the Taliban enjoy the support from both State and non-State factors in Pakistan is no secret. Unfortunately, a vast territory in the landlocked country is now under the Taliban which do not approve of the growing economic and political relations between Afghanistan and India. India and the US have evidence that the attack on the Indian mission in Kabul was the brainwork of the Pakistani ISI and was executed by the Afghani terrorists. An idea that has been gaining ground is to co-opt the Taliban into the Afghan Government to end the strife in the country.
India can not but look askance at any such proposal as it knows that, given the Taliban’s propensity, it will in the due course edge out the pro-democracy forces represented by Karzai from the Government. This will have dangerous implications for the whole world.
Joint Statement
A Joint Statement issued at the end of Karzai’s talks with the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stated that Singh conveyed to the Afghan leader that the following the completion of the Zarang-Delaram road project, a second major infrastructure project, the Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul transmission line and the sub-station at Chimtala in northern Afghanistan would be handed over shortly by India to the Afghan Government. The two leaders expressed satisfaction that the construction of the Afghan Parliament, a symbol of the common commitment of both countries to pluralism and democracy, had also begun.
In order to help the people of Afghanistan in tiding over their current food crisis, India would gift Afghanistan 250,000 metric tones of wheat. The shipment would be effected immediately after the Afghan Government had worked out its transportation arrangements.
India should help Afghanistan for the development of its economy and improving bilateral relations between the two countries. In a balance-of-power, it is up to Afghanistan to engage India in a partnership and shape it to accept the new situation.

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