US promises not to leave Afghanistan alone
WASHINGTON (PAN): The US and the international community can no longer afford to commit their past mistake of neglecting Afghanistan after the Soviet defeat, a top Obama administration official said on Tuesday.
As the United States had begun to draw down its forces and transfer the security responsibility to Afghans, it was ever mindful of the country’s recent history and the terrible cost of neglect, Deputy Secretary of State William J Burns said, adding none of them could afford to make that mistake again.
“We are making headway in negotiating a new Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Afghans to extend beyond 2014,” Burns said in his remarks on India-US relationship jointly organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based eminent American think-tank.
“As Secretary Clinton emphatically noted in Chennai with regard to our long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s stability, we will be there,” he said, insisting that success in Afghanistan depends on ensuring that others are there, too.
“That certainly includes India. With coalition forces drawing down, Afghanistan will need extensive private investment and economic linkages with its neighbors,” he said.
Even with no direct access to India’s rising middle class market, Afghanistan already sends one-quarter of its exports to India, the top US official said. “Imagine what will be possible when transit and trade agreements extend outward to India and Central Asia, and Afghan traders are able to shift goods directly to the markets of Mysore and Mumbai, and Indian innovation and capital can play the same role lifting Afghan prosperity that it has at home,” he said.
Burns said the “New Silk Road”, as they envisioned it, was not a single path—it was a vision of economic, transit, infrastructure and human links between South and Central Asia and India could be its economic engine.
Speaking on the occasion, the Indian ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, welcomed the “New Silk Road” initiative and termed it as an important step. India believed that Afghanistan could become a hub that would link Central and South Asia through increased trade, transit, and commercial linkages, she noted.
“As we move towards transition of security to Afghan national forces, it is imperative that the international community continues to remain engaged in Afghanistan and help it build its institutions and economy to ensure a sustained development,” she said.
Rao said Professor Rabbani’s tragic assassination last week reminded them again of the evil designs of the enemies of peace in Afghanistan. They would not let such forces succeed, she said, adding it was essential that the process of nation-building, including intra-regional reconciliation in Afghanistan succeeds. That was vital for ensuring peace and stability in the region as a whole, she concluded.
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