India interested in stable, independent Afghanistan
KABUL(PAN): Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday told the Parliament that Afghanistan had to make its decisions without “outside interference or coercion” and added that India was only interested in a stable, peaceful and independent Afghanistan at peace with its neighbours.
Singh, who arrived on a two visit to Kabul on Thursday, told the joint session of the parliament, which composed of Wolesi Jirga or Lower House and Meshrano Jirga or Upper House, the two nations must not allow the flames of extremism and terrorism to be fanned.
“Terrorism and extremism are alien ideas to our people. They bring only death and destruction in their wake. They provide no answers to the problems of poverty, illiteracy, hunger and disease,” Singh told the assembled upper and lower houses of Parliament. “We cannot and must not allow the flames of extremism and terrorism to be fanned once again.”
He said Afghanistan had embarked upon a process of national reconciliation. "We wish you well in this enterprise. It is up to you, as the peoples’ representatives, to make decisions about your country’s future without outside interference or coercion. This is your sovereign right. India will respect the choices you make and the decisions you take,” Singh said.
Singh said bin Laden’s death can be an opportunity to put aside decades-old regional rivalries and work for peace across Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“I sincerely hope that all countries of this region — Afghanistan, Pakistan, India — would recognize that this is a unique moment in the history of this region. Thereby we all should agree to work unitedly to end this scourge of terrorism,” Singh told journalists on Friday.
A joint declaration issued by Singh and Karzai said that the two countries agreed to work to strengthen their bilateral agreements. And India announced in the declaration that will give an additional $500 million to the Afghan government for development programs. That brings India’s total development aid to the country to $2 billion.
“Nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to see Indian resources being utilized for more roads, more electricity, more schools, more hospitals or more community projects — activities that directly benefit the common Afghan people,” Singh told Parliament.
"If you agree, I am proposing formation of inter-parliamentary friendship association between Afghanistan and India," Sing told joint session of both chambers of parliament.
The Prime Minister also noted that his government supports Afghan government's peace talks with the armed opposition groups and the transferring of security responsibility from 140,000- strong NATO-led troops to Afghan security forces. The process begins from July this year and would be completed by the end of 2014.
Earlier in a meeting with President Karzai, Singh announced $500 million as aid to Afghanistan, bringing Indian contribution to some $2 billion to the nation since 2002.
India, according to Afghan government, has already contributed some $1.5 billion to post-Taliban Afghanistan.
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