Rahimi dismisses security vacuum after 2014
KABUL (PAN): Agriculture Minister Asif Rahimi has dismissed apprehension about a security vacuum in Afghanistan after international forces drawdown next year, saying the country is largely at peace, except for some "localised violence".
"Extensive measures have been taken for security. There will not be any vacuum because the Afghan National Army and police with 350,000 strength will fill the gap,” Rahimi told an Indian news agency during a visit to New Delhi.
“It already is happening; 80 percent of Afghan soil is now being secured by our own armies and police. The other 20 percent will happen by the end of 2014," the minister told IANS in an interview.
He said Afghanistan is welcoming investors with cheap electricity, land and tax incentives during its transition period. “It is also keen that Indian business persons grab the opportunity,” said Rahimi, who assured a safe environment for doing business.
The cabinet minister said his country is keen that business people take advantage of the incentives put in place for those investing ahead of the transition.
"Next year will be a transition year and the government of Afghanistan has put in place an incentives package for investors, like electricity at cheap prices, land in a very easy way, tax incentives, customs charges incentives - to make investment to Afghanistan easier.”
“The incentive package is up to 2015. So, we encourage Indian investors to actually take up the opportunity," he said.
To concerns about attacks by Taliban on Indians in Afghanistan, Rahimi said such incidents had been limited and the investments the government was encouraging were in the "safe areas of the country".
"There has been attack on Afghan targets... but majority of Afghan soil is at peace, and the peace has been strengthened, consolidated. There is localised violence in certain areas, and we have to be cautious and make sure that we take measures when we go to those areas," he said.
"Yes, there have been attacks on Germans, on Americans, on Afghans as well as on Indians, but these attacks have been limited... We hope the security situation will further improve. The investments that we encourage will happen in the safe areas of the country."
"Large swathes of the country in the east, the west, the centre are definitely places where investments and industries can flourish," said Rahimi.
"I encourage our Indian colleagues not to worry, and not become concerned about the security situation, the economic situation in the country, and take the opportunity of the incentive packages that the government of Afghanistan has announced," said the minister.
President Hamid Karzai is due to visit India next week, when he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders.
Karzai is described as a "trusted friend of India". India is involved in large scale development works in Afghanistan, including building parliament, dams, roads and highways, hospitals and schools.
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