In­dia com­mit­ted to eco­nomic re­con­struc­tion of Afghanistan, says Sushma Swaraj

Says In­dia, Cen­tral Asia and Afghanistan are so­ci­eties which are tol­er­ant and plu­ral

Millennium Post - - Front Page -

SA­MARKAND: In­dia on Sun­day said it was com­mit­ted to the eco­nomic re­con­struc­tion of Afghanistan and to pro­mote an in­clu­sive “Afghan-led, Afghanowned and Afghan-con­trolled” peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process in the war-torn coun­try.

In­dia’s po­si­tion was enun­ci­ated by Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj at the his­toric In­dia-cen­tral Asia Di­a­logue here, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Afghanistan, which fo­cussed on a plethora of re­gional is­sues in­clud­ing en­hanc­ing con­nec­tiv­ity.

“I would like to specif­i­cally point out that our re­gion is fac­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges posed by ter­ror­ism. In­dia, Cen­tral Asia and Afghanistan are so­ci­eties which are tol­er­ant and plu­ral,’’ Swaraj said.

SA­MARKAND (Uzbek­istan), Jan 13 (PTI) In­dia on Sun­day said it was com­mit­ted to the eco­nomic re­con­struc­tion of Afghanistan and to pro­mote an in­clu­sive "Afghan-led, Afghanowned and Afghan-con­trolled" peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process in the war-torn coun­try. In­dia's po­si­tion was enun­ci­ated by Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj at the his­toric In­dia-cen­tral Asia Di­a­logue here, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Afghanistan, which fo­cussed on a plethora of re­gional is­sues in­clud­ing en­hanc­ing con­nec­tiv­ity to the coun­try rav­aged by ter­ror­ism.

"I would like to specif­i­cally point out that our re­gion is fac­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges posed by ter­ror­ism. In­dia, Cen­tral Asia and Afghanistan are so­ci­eties which are tol­er­ant and plu­ral. The ide­ol­ogy of hate which the ter­ror­ists would like to spread has no place in our so­ci­eties," Swaraj said while ad­dress­ing the first ses­sion of the di­a­logue.

"We also need to ask that who these ter­ror­ists are, who funds them, how do they find sus­te­nance, who pro­tects and spon­sors them," she said.

"No busi­ness devel­op­ment, no in­vest­ment can take place in a coun­try suf­fer­ing from ter­ror­ism. To pro­mote busi­ness devel­op­ment in our re­gion, we agreed to fight the scourge of ter­ror­ism to­gether," Swaraj said, adding that ter­ror­ism se­ri­ously erodes all av­enues of devel­op­ment which a coun­try can have.

Devel­op­ment part­ner­ship has emerged as an im­por­tant com­po­nent of In­dia's en­gage­ment with Afghanistan.

The min­is­ter of­fered to ex­tend this part­ner­ship to Cen­tral Asia as well, where In­dia can bring coun­tries closer by tak­ing up con­crete projects un­der lines of credit and buy­ers' credit, and by shar­ing its ex­per­tise.

She said more ef­fi­cient con­nec­tiv­ity will lead to the full re­al­i­sa­tion of the growth po­ten­tial of the re­gion. "We are geo­graph­i­cally close and, in terms of air con­nec­tiv­ity, only about three hours away," she said adding the time has come to de­velop more ef­fi­cient tran­sit routes, as well as to bet­ter utilise ex­ist­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and find in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions.

In­dia has pro­posed the set­ting up of the 'In­dia-cen­tral Asia Devel­op­ment Group' to take for­ward this devel­op­ment part­ner­ship be­tween In­dia and Cen­tral Asian coun­tries. The group will come up with con­crete pro­pos­als, Swaraj said.

She men­tioned the joint ef­forts of In­dia, Iran and Afghanistan that have led to the devel­op­ment of the Chaba­har port in Iran as a vi­able route to con­nect to Afghanistan and po­ten­tially to Cen­tral Asia.

"Chaba­har pro­vides a shin­ing ex­am­ple of what strong part­ner­ship can achieve to over­come any ob­sta­cles," she said.

In­dia has al­ready sent a very sub­stan­tial quan­tity of wheat to Afghanistan us­ing the Chaba­har port. Last month, an In­dian com­pany opened its of­fice and took over op­er­a­tions at the Sha­heed Be­heshti port at Chaba­har, she said. In­dia is also look­ing to de­velop the Chaba­har-za­hedan rail­way link which would bring it close to the Zaranj-de­laram road link which In­dia has al­ready built in Afghanistan.

In­dia has also put for­ward sev­eral pro­pos­als to­wards en­hanc­ing cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion and train­ing pro­grammes for ca­pac­ity build­ing for can­di­dates from Cen­tral Asia. Swaraj said "In­dia sup­ports the peo­ple and gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan in their ef­forts to build a united, sov­er­eign, demo­cratic, peace­ful, sta­ble, pros­per­ous and in­clu­sive na­tion. In­dia sup­ports all ef­forts for peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan which are in­clu­sive and Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-con­trolled".

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