India supports efforts to transform Afghan economy
WASHINGTON (PAN): India on Thursday said it remained committed to development and peace in Afghanistan and would continue to do so after 2014 when foreign troops are scheduled to withdraw from the country and hand over security to Afghan forces.
Visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told a Washington audience the two countries needed to be hold close and candid consultations on Afghanistan, an area where he called for absolutely frank discussions.
“To start with, we sincerely respect and honour the significant sacrifices made by our American and Afghan partners in securing and reconstructing Afghanistan. India too has given lives and has spent almost two billion dollars in reconstruction assistance. And we intend to remain engaged with Afghanistan and its other international partners,” he said.
Apart from supporting efforts to bring Afghanistan into regional connectivity frameworks, India was trying to lead the effort to transform the war-hit country’s economy, including its evolution to a trade and investment-based economy.
“Why is India involved? Very simply, history has taught us that whatever happens in Afghanistan has and will continue to affect our security directly. We have not forgotten the terrorist havens that targeted us, springing up as Afghanistan descended into chaos in the 1990s.
“And obviously, we do not want that to happen again,” said the foreign secretary, who is in Washington to hold consultations with his American counterpart on a range of bilateral and regional issues.
It was for this reason that internationally-accepted red lines must be respected in whatever reconciliation models were being considered, he argued, noting that actions in support of the political transition should not undermine Afghan institutions of governance.
“We all need a credible government after 2014 as well. But most of all, we are yet to see any evidence that supports the notion of a dividing line separating Al Qaeda from other terrorist and extremist groups, or indeed, that these groups and those who support them have either had an epiphany or made a strategic reassessment of their objectives,” he said.