Pakistan linked friendly ties to Durand Line recognition: Karzai
KABUL (Pajhwok): Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said the troubled relationship between Afghanistan and the establishment in Pakistan “continues to be the most notable impediment to regional connectivity and lasting peace.”
Karzai was speaking at the inaugural session of the “Raisina Dialogue” India’s flagship conference being organised by Observer Research Foundation and Ministry of External Affairs of India in New Delhi from March 1-3.
The Raisina Dialogue which is India’s maiden version of famous ‘Singapore-based Shangrila Dialogue’ is designed to examine the prospects for Asian integration and discuss India’s vital role in Indian Ocean and how India with its partners can build a stable and prosperous world order.
“I am glad to be back in India,” Karzai said, adding he was confident the forum was an important opportunity to deliberate on common vision of a peaceful and prosperous Asia and to explore the challenges and opportunities of regional integration.
For centuries, Karzai said, Asia was the commercial, intellectual and spiritual hub of the world where ideas, goods and people crisscrossed and connected civilizations.
“Today as we try to revive those routes and networks, there are a plethora of initiatives underway in the form of strategies, regional organizations, transport corridors, infrastructure projects, trade and transit agreements, and banks.”
In this regard he named India’s Connect Central Asia, China’s One Road One Belt, development of new ports such Chabahar-Zaranj, the North-South Transport Corridor, TAPI, CASA1000, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Eurasian Economic Union, and multiple trade and transit agreements between countries of the region as fate-changing endeavors.
Karzai said he visited Pakistan more than twenty times, with utmost enthusiasm and sincerity, to address mutual concerns and to take concrete steps towards improving bilateral political and economic ties during his presidency.
From the Pakistani perspective, he said, peaceful and friendly relations with Afghanistan were conditioned on the recognition of the Durand Line, one of the very negative legacies of the Colonial rule.
In the past 15 years, Karzai said he had constantly underlined the impossibility of the recognition of the Durand Line by Afghanistan; while expressing Afghan desire for friendly and cooperative relations with Pakistan.
“In regards to Afghanistan’s foreign relations, we have clearly demonstrated to our brothers in Pakistan that our sense of sovereignty and independence is the single most cherished value for which we have sacrificed a great deal in the course of our history and for which we are known globally.”
Karzai said the Afghans respected Pakistan’s freedom to pursue its independent relations with any country in the world and Afghanistan would surely exercise the same prerogative.
“We have also clarified to them that our relations with any country in the region and beyond will not be to their detriment…a strategy of cooperation based on a civilized relationship will help both countries rise and prosper together.”
He said they must strive to realize the full potential of Afghanistan’s centrality as a transit hub and as a nexus of regional connectivity.
“Afghanistan provides the most efficient and the shortest route between China and Iran, between India and Central Asia, and between Russia and South Asia.”
He said the main disconnect in this web of stability and prosperity was Afghanistan’s lack of access to India and India’s lack of access to Afghanistan and Central Asia through Pakistan. “This must be fixed if we are to create a fully integrated and stable region where each single country would benefit and prosper.”
Karzai stressed a coordinated approach to connectivity between India and China and said close cooperation and confluence of interests between India and China was imperative for stability and would unleash unprecedented opportunities for the region and beyond.
“Afghanistan fully supports India’s Connect Central Asia strategy and China’s One Belt One Road initiative and wishes to be active stakeholder in these grand visions.”
“Only positive symmetry between India and China can generate a win-win outcome and create a mutually assured inclusion greatly benefiting regional peace and prosperity.”
Karzai said during his presidency, he actively engaged with China to establish a comprehensive partnership and today Afghanistan-China relations were comprehensive and deeply friendly.
He called for seeking regional solutions to common security challenges and said they must recognize that the region would not fully reap the benefits of economic connectivity if terrorism and radicalism continued to cast a dark shadow over their potential and impede progress.
“Despite efforts by the international community, terrorism is far from being defeated and is rather spreading across the wider region.”
He said it was imperative for China, India and Russia to play a leading role in a system of regional security that would strengthen domestic capacities and mobilize regional resources in an integrated manner.
He said their common vision for a secure and prosperous future could be achieved if they moved beyond a narrow definition of national interest and zero-sum games. “Our vision is not a Utopian dream. It can and must be realized.”
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.