India boosts Afghan aid

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by LETHALFORCE, May 13, 2011.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India boosts Afghan aid - Channel NewsAsia

    KABUL: India's prime minister on Thursday pledged $500 million in fresh aid to Kabul in a move likely to raise Pakistani fears about Indian influence in Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing.

    Making his first visit to Kabul for six years, Manmohan Singh met President Hamid Karzai as calls grow in the United States for a quicker withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan following the death of the Al-Qaeda chief.

    Any rapid reduction of US forces in Afghanistan would cause India concern, as it fears the country could become dominated by a Taliban-influenced government friendly towards its arch-rival Pakistan.

    "India's development assistance commitment is approximately $1.5 billion, but there are still gaps," Singh told a press conference with Karzai.

    "We now have a better idea of where we can do more... We have made a fresh commitment of $500 million over the next few years."

    He also took a swipe at Pakistan by calling for a "thorough investigation" into Osama's presence in the country -- adding to widespread accusations of Pakistani incompetence or even complicity.

    Singh said priority areas for the fresh injection of aid would be social programmes, agriculture and infrastructure in poverty-stricken Afghanistan.

    In a joint statement, Singh and Karzai said they had agreed on a "shared commitment to combating terrorism that threatens both countries as well as the region."

    After more than two decades without sway in Kabul, India swiftly established diplomatic ties with the new government after the 2001 US-led invasion deposed the extremist Taliban, which was allied to Pakistan.

    The Afghan-Indian relationship has raised hackles in Islamabad, where the government and military establishment has long considered Afghanistan its own strategic asset to offset the perceived threat from India in the east.

    "Any development that strengthens relations between India and Afghanistan will enhance security concerns in Pakistan," former Pakistani general turned military analyst Talat Masood told AFP.

    "Both countries should be working for stability in Afghanistan instead of using it for a proxy confrontation."

    India's tussle with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan could sharpen as the United States begins cutting troop numbers from July with the aim of all foreign forces exiting the country by the end of 2014.

    "Singh's visit is just one part of India's 'soft touch' diplomacy towards Afghanistan, which causes jealousy in Pakistan," said Saeed Naqvi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi.

    "India has pursued better links by building schools, hospitals and roads, and that work will now expand, while Osama's death in Pakistan has damaged Islamabad's reputation."

    Both India and Afghanistan have troubled relations with Pakistan, accusing its military intelligence of supporting and sheltering militant leaders who orchestrate attacks in the region.

    Pakistan has been flung into crisis by the May 2 killing of Osama by US special forces in the garrison city of Abbottabad, just two hours' drive from Islamabad.

    US Major General John Campbell, who commands NATO-led forces in the east of Afghanistan, told reporters this week that the death could encourage insurgents to lay down their weapons and spur a possible peace settlement to end the war.

    Karzai has visited India 10 times since 2002, and was educated for a time in the Indian hill station of Shimla. Singh last visited Afghanistan in 2005.

    Singh is due to address the Afghan parliament on Friday before returning to New Delhi.

    -AFP/wk
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    domain-b.com : Likely Indian aid for Afghan water projects rattles Pakistan


    Likely Indian aid for Afghan water projects rattles Pakistan news

    [​IMG]

    Islamabad: The possibility that India may extend valuable financial aid to Kabul to construct a series of hydro-power projects on the Kabul River has left the Pakistani establishment deeply rattled. It now appears that India may well have opened a new front in the strategic game being played out in the region even as Chinese army (PLA) presence in Pakistan-occupied –Kashmir (PoK) is now a confirmed fact.

    The PLA presence ostensibly, as explained away by Pakistan, is necessary to execute ''engineering'' projects.

    News is now filtering out that India may extend financial aid, perhaps even technical, to the beleaguered government of Afghanistan to build 12 hydro-power projects on the Kabul River.

    India's own hydro projects on the rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab are already a bone of contention between these two warring neighbours as they originate in India but flow into Pakistan.


    The 12 dams on the Kabul River will involve building a total water storage capacity of 4.7 million acre feet (MAF), which, as worried Pakistani experts point out, will be 25% more than their own massive Mangla Dam.

    Pakistani sources claim that Kabul is initiating multi-purpose water projects on the tributaries of the Kabul River with assistance from the international community and that India plans to assist Afghanistan in this initiative. The Pakistani establishment is of the opinion that these projects are likely to adversely impact Pakistan.

    According to Pakistani estimates it is likely that the World Bank will fund the $7.079 billion cost of the 12 dams.

    Details, as revealed by Pakistani sources, suggest that four hydropower projects are likely to come up in the Panjshir sub-basin.

    These would include the $332 million Totumdara project, designed to generate 200 MW of electricity; a $1.174 billion Barak project which will generate 100 MW of electricity; a $1.078 billion Panjshir (100 MW) project; and the $607 million Baghdara (210 MW) project.

    The Logur Upper Kabul sub-basin on the Kabul River will see construction of four more dams, including the $72 million Haijana project (72 MW); the $207 million Kajab (15 MW) project; the $356 million Tangi Wadag (56 MW) project and the $51million Gat (86 MW) project.

    Four more dams will be built in the Lower Kabul sub-basin, including the $442 million Sarobi project (210 MW); the $1.434 billion Laghman project (1251 MW) and the $1.094 billion Kunar (A) (94.8 MW) and Kama projects (11.5 MW).

    According to Pakistan-supplied statistics, Afghanistan and Pakistan currently share nine rivers with annual flows of about 18.3 million acres feet (MAF), of which Kabul River alone accounts for 16.5 MAF. The River Chitral, which originates from Pakistan, contributes about 8.5 MAF.

    After it enters Afghanistan the Chitral is called the River Kunar. It joins the Kabul River near Jalalabad and then re-enters Pakistan.

    Paksiatni sources suggest that atleast 0.5 MAF water from these planned dams will be taken away to irrigate additional 14,000 acres of land in Afghanistan.

    Pakistani experts are now pointing out that though Afghanistan has the right to utilise water from the Kabul River it should keep in mind that the Kunar River is a major contributor to the total water flows of the River Kabul.

    Though the total flow of the Kabul River is 21,000 Million Cubic Meter, Pakistani sources aver that the River Kunar alone contributes 15,000 Million Cubic Meter to that flow. The Kunar, it is being pointed out originates in Pakistan.

    If these projects should fructify, the Pakistanis are openly voicing concerns that they may have to purchase their electricity from Afghanistan, which they claim is the underlying purpose of the Indian exercise.
     
  4. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    Why is it so? And from who are they purchasing it today?
    Are they generating that electricity on their own today and the dams would disable that capability? If not, then why all this hue and cry?

    While Kabul river originates in Afghanistan, the Kunar/Chitral is the main tributary of Kabul river. It originates in Pakistan 5-10 miles inside the border, before entering Afghanistan.
    Technically not, but practically Pakistan is proven lower riparian again in this case. I don't know about the geography of that area, is it possible for Pakistan to build dams at Kunar/Chitral while it is still in Pakistan?

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
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  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Going by what you said, 5-10 miles of a river is just not enough to build a dam and a reservoir. Of course, one can build a tiny dam and a tiny reservoir to power a cadet-hostel of 100 people, but surely not in any large scale. The longer a river is, the more water it can get from the surrounding higher terrain.

    I don't think Pakistan has a technical case here. It is more of envy than anything else. An Indian touch just adds a little cream to the coffee!
     
  6. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    They should be looking at a prospect of buying electricty from Afghans whom they call their brothers. They got another source of electricity and guess what it is not Indian.
    Pity that they are jealous !!

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
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  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    MEA - Press Note on additional assistance to Afghanistan announced by Prime Minister during his visit to Afghanistan

    May 12, 2011

    India’s existing commitments to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan involve a financial outlay of close to US $ 1.5 billion.

    2. A fresh package of US $ 500 million has been announced during the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Afghanistan, to underline India’s undiluted commitment to the efforts of the Government and people of Afghanistan to build a peaceful, prosperous and stable country. The following are the aid commitments made during the visit:

    (i) A fresh commitment of US $ 100 million for the third phase of India’s programme of Small Development Projects, over and above the previous pledge of US$ 20 million;

    (ii) Donation of 1000 buses for the Kabul and other municipalities with provision for maintenance support, training and infrastructure;

    (iii) A medical package consisting of the treatment of Afghan patients in select disciplines and hospitals in India over the next three years to be implemented through the Afghan Ministry of Public Health; the rehabilitation and professional up-gradation of the National Malaria and Leishmaniasis Centre of Afghanistan; and the upgradation of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, including the neo-natal and maternal care unit;

    (iv) Upgradation of the agricultural department at the Kabul University to an agricultural university and providing scholarships for the study of agricultural sciences.

    (v) Donation of 500 tractors for Afghan farmers; Provision of seeds and other assistance for the agricultural sector;

    (vi) The early finalization of a US$ 50 million Buyers Credit Line to promote exports and attract Indian business to Afghanistan;

    (vii) A grant of US $ 10 million for preservation and revival of Afghanistan’s archaeological and cultural heritage and cultural exchanges;

    (viii) A grant of US $ 4 million to the Government of Afghanistan for the restoration of the historic Stor Palace in Kabul.

    (ix) Assistance in setting up an Afghan Institute of Mining.

    (x) An enhancement of our ICCR scholarships for students from 675 to 1000 with a special focus on encouraging women students to avail of the additional slots;

    (xi) Assistance in setting up of a computer laboratory at Habibia School.

    (xii) Supporting the Second Phase of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Skills Development Programme for providing vocational training to Afghan nationals

    (xiii) Establishment of a Jawaharlal Nehru Chair of Indian Studies at Kabul University

    (xiv) Reiterating the commitment to donate 250,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan to meet its requirements this year.

    Kabul
    May 12, 2011
     
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  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    There are 12 dams being planned some much deeper in Afghanistan. Since India is providing the aid it will still be Indians involved and the painful truth that Pakistan's waters are controlled by India in the East and the West.
     
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  9. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Thats something like tightening the screw from both ends. Looks like someone in GOI is awake and thinking.
     
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  10. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Indian commitment to Afghanistan touches USD 2 billion: PM - Hindustan Times

    Indian commitment to Afghanistan touches USD 2 billion: PM

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday outlined a slew of measures to assist in Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts, a day after committing an additional USD 500 million for various developmental projects in the war-torn nation that would take the total Indian aid to USD 2 billion. Addressi
    ng a joint session of the Afghan Parliament, Singh said India and Afghanistan face similar development challenges.

    "India is ready to partner the Afghan people as they rebuild their country in accordance with their own priorities and national circumstances," he said. "Many of Afghanistan's priorities are also our priorities. Many of your problems are also our problems."

    Singh said the people of India feel privileged to see their development cooperation receive such a warm welcome in Afghanistan.

    "Nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to see Indian resources being utilised for more roads, more electricity, more schools, more hospitals or more community projects - activities that directly benefit the common Afghan people," he said.

    "We will increase development outlays towards capacity building and skill development," the Prime Minister said in his address, heard with rapt attention by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    He said the government will help through more scholarships for Afghan students for studying in India, institution building efforts, social development and higher investment in the health sector by way of a medical package. India will provide buses for Kabul and other municipalities in Afghanistan.

    Singh said India plans to upgrade the agricultural department at the Kabul University to an agricultural university, donate tractors to farmers and give scholarships for the study of agricultural sciences.

    He said India will significantly enhance its commitment for the Small Development Projects Scheme across Afghan provinces to further facilitate development at the grassroots with the involvement of local communities.

    The Prime Minister also unveiled a plan to help in the preservation and revival of Afghanistan's archaeological and cultural heritage and restoration of the historic Stor Palace in Kabul.

    "The total outlay on these and other additional initiatives that we will take in consultation with the government of Afghanistan in the next few years will amount to 500 million US dollars. This will take our total commitment of assistance to around 2 billion US dollars," Singh said.

    India is the sixth largest donor to Afghanistan, which is trying to rebuild the war-ravaged nation after suffering from Taliban-led militancy.
     
  11. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    I don't see how the help in dam construction will enable India to control water flow. Any ideas how? Doesn't seem happening in the west.
    I think the water would still be in Afghan control ultimately and they won't play party with India easily even if Indian Govt. wants so. Is there a legal ground given to India to decide about the water, in return for their aid? I think not.
    Coming to electricity, eventually Afghans would see their neighbors as the most feasible buyers of their electricity. Who else are they going to sell and how?
    Our interference in whom to give the water and electricity might go against the Afghan desires to earn some bucks.

    Indian foreign policy needs to be a lot more wicked, to be able to squeeze Pakistan like that. GOI just doesn't have those guts. At the most we could create temporary blockages during war or war like scenarios.


    Regards,
    Virendra
     
  12. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Ok so Pashtuns will decide if they need water more or let it flow to Pak Punjab. Wonder who they will choose? Even if India is not involved it empowers the Afghans. Pakistan is objecting this as Indian control of their waters.
     
  13. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Bang on the point LF. If I may add, Pakistan had always wanted to (1) have a strategic depth in Afghanistan and (2) keep the Pashtuns less empowered so that Pakistan's territorial integrity is preserved along with keeping demands of greater Pakhtunistan muted. Empowering the Pakhtuns and the Afghans should be a smart policy on part of GoI.
     
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  14. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Once again, wasting of money where it can be utilized properly in our own country. Rather than trying to gain strategic depth by doing material work; as they say "teaching them how to fish rather than giving them fish", the government is giving out money which will obviously not reach the hands of the common Afghan or that country's proper use. Why are we doing this same mistake again and again? Afghanistan is our friend fine enough; but if we can get to teach them to fend off for themselves through material help rather than cash help, that will be more useful.

    If we could possibly construct a couple of roads, a dozen schools and colleges, a couple of training centers for vital know-how, that would do much better service than pledging cash money which never would better Afghanistan.
     
  15. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    That is where you have misread indian help in Astan. India is kit throwing away money. It has very carefully spent it so that the help reaches grassroots level. That is why you see a positive outlook of India in the view of all Afghans.

    India has to do all it can to prevent Astan falling to Pakistani Terrorists.
     
  16. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The press release mentiond details on what the $500 million will be spent on. There are also reports on India training Afghan police forces. There is still no talk on more juicy stuff like military aid and training of Afghan army units. Although, its an open secret that some Afghan officers are being trained in India.

    What India needs to do at present it build a proper logistics base in Afghanistan so that in case we have a 1990s like situation again. India is better prepared to provide military assistance if needed. That includes having air bridges via Central Asian states or the sea-land route vie Iran
     
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  17. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Joint Declaration between India and Afghanistan on the occasion of the visit of Prime Minister of India - Full Text

    At the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, paid an official visit to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

    During the visit, H.E. Dr. Manmohan Singh held detailed discussions with H.E. President Hamid Karzai on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

    The two sides recognized the ancient, historical and traditional ties that have existed between the two countries for centuries, and their mutual desire for close cooperation to strengthen and develop these ties for mutual benefit. Drawing upon their rich and fruitful tradition of cooperation in various fields since the establishment of their diplomatic relations, and emphasizing the fundamental and lasting importance of the Treaty of Friendship between the Government of India and the Royal Government of Afghanistan of 04 January 1950, and subsequent Agreements and Joint Statements, the two sides agreed that the further comprehensive development of their bilateral strategic ties would promote progress and prosperity in both countries and the region as a whole.

    The two sides agreed to impart a long term commitment to their multifaceted bilateral relations and to actively develop them in the years ahead. India and Afghanistan confirmed their adherence to the common ideals of peace, democracy, inclusive development, rule of law, non-violence, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and underlined their shared commitment to combating terrorism that threatens both countries as well as the region and the world as a whole. The two leaders shared their vision of Afghanistan as an independent, democratic, stable and prosperous country.

    Reaffirming their commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, India and Afghanistan decided to establish a Strategic Partnership covering all areas of mutual interest. Based on mutual understanding and long term trust in each other, this Partnership envisages the elevation of their multifaceted ties to a higher level, both in the bilateral field and in the international arena.

    The two sides declared that the Strategic Partnership between the two countries is based upon the principles of sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of States, non-interference in their internal affairs, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

    The two sides decided to hold follow up discussions in the near future towards preparation of a Strategic Partnership document between the two countries. The Strategic Partnership will be implemented under the framework of a Partnership Council. The Council will be headed by the Foreign Ministers of both the countries and will meet annually. It will consist of separate Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on designated issues of common concern.

    The two sides agreed that the Strategic Partnership between India and Afghanistan will include various facets of the bilateral relationship.

    In the political sphere, the two sides agreed to hold regular Summit level meetings, institutionalized dialogues at various levels, regular consultations on peace and security, and closer cooperation and coordination at the United Nations and other international and regional fora.

    In the area of economics and commerce, the two sides decided to enter into a Strategic Economic Partnership, recognizing the advantages of closer economic integration with the South Asian market and the region. They agreed to explore greater cooperation in sectors such as mining, metallurgy, fuel and energy, information technology, communications and transport, and also jointly explore the possibilities of regional trading arrangements with other countries. The two countries agreed on the importance of regional projects such as TAPI, in promoting regional integration.

    The two sides agreed to enhance and expand cooperation in the field of education & human resource capacity development, including through expanded opportunities for education and training for Afghan students in India and a significant expansion of the ongoing Small Development Projects (SDPs) scheme for grass-root level development in all parts of Afghanistan, especially remote and rural areas, and for the welfare particularly of Afghan women and children.

    The Indian side announced an additional outlay of USD 500 million for these and other projects to be decided in consultation with Afghan partners making their total development commitment to Afghanistan USD 2 billion. The Afghan side expressed gratitude to India for its commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development and for its generous support over the past ten years, including the new announcement of an additional USD 500 million to its past contribution.

    The two sides also emphasized the importance of parliamentary exchanges, and those in the area of media, culture, youth, civil society and people-to-people relations, to provide further substance to the Strategic Partnership between the two countries.

    The two sides agreed that regional economic cooperation, with a view to assisting Afghanistan in emerging as a land bridge and trade, transportation and energy hub connecting Central and South Asia by enabling free and more unfettered transport and transit linkages would be in the interest of the country and the region as a whole. In this context, the two sides agreed on the need to explore regional infrastructure development projects and further energize cooperation under the framework of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

    The two sides also agreed that an important part of their Strategic Partnership would be cooperation in the area of security, law enforcement and justice, including an enhanced focus on cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, organised crime, and illegal trafficking in narcotics, and money-laundering.

    The two sides affirmed that their Strategic Partnership was not directed against any other State or group of States.
     
  18. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    MEA -Address by Prime Minister to the Joint Session of the Parliament of Afghanistan - Full Text

    May 13, 2011

    I am overwhelmed by the honour given to me today to address the joint session of the Parliament of Afghanistan.

    I am conscious that this is a rare honour given to a foreign leader. I am humbled by this gesture of love and affection for India.

    You, the Honourable Members of the Wolesi Jirga and the Meshrano Jirga, represent the magnificent diversity, hopes and aspirations of this great and ancient land.

    I bring to you the greetings and good wishes of the people of India.

    Honourable Members,

    Afghanistan is a country richly endowed in culture, heritage, architecture and natural resources.

    Afghanistan has been a centre of civilization. It has given to the region and the world the richness of Dari and Pashto literature, the Sufi traditions of the Chistis, the legacy of the Buddha and Buddhist art in Bamiyan, the Gandhara School of art and much more.

    Afghanistan has been the junction between South and Central Asia and a gateway to India.

    Our ties of history and culture go back many millennia.

    The founder of the Mughal Empire Emperor Babar lies interred here in his favourite garden in Kabul.

    In his brilliant reign of five years, Sher Shah Suri built the Grand Trunk Road from Kabul to Delhi. This facilitated the traditional exchange of religious ideas, the carriage of goods, travellers, kings and commoners. Kagazi badams and Kandahari anars are well known delicacies in India.

    Bacha Khan, who was known as the Frontier Gandhi because of his friendship with Mahatma Gandhi, was laid to rest in Jalalabad according to his wishes.

    Our forefathers have bequeathed to us a rich heritage of social, cultural and political ties. These civilisational connections have tied together our traditions and faiths and our terrain and temperament.

    As leaders and representatives, we have the sacred duty to strengthen and enrich these bonds forged by our people over centuries.

    I have come to Afghanistan to renew these ties of friendship, solidarity and fraternity. This is the only agenda that I have come with. This is the only agenda that the people of India have in Afghanistan.

    Honourable Members,

    Afghanistan has undergone great trials and tribulations. But we know that the Afghan people are proud, brave and fiercely independent. We know that they are strong and resilient in the face of adversity. These are qualities widely admired in India.

    In the ten years since it decided to turn its back on the past and face the future, Afghanistan has made significant progress in many areas. There are undoubtedly many challenges ahead. The process of nation building is long and full of hurdles. National reconstruction needs sustained hard work and sacrifice and is a process of learning.

    Our two countries face similar development challenges. India is ready to partner the Afghan people as they rebuild their country in accordance with their own priorities and national circumstances.

    Many of Afghanistan’s priorities are also our priorities. Many of your problems are also our problems.

    We fully support the vision of a secure, prosperous and democratic future for Afghanistan outlined in the National Priority Programmes initiated by the government of Afghanistan.

    Our experience of policy implementation in India has been that participative democracy is a vital agent of social and economic empowerment at the grassroots. It has brought in more transparent and accountable governance. The Afghan parliament already has reservation for women. We have found that similar reservation in local bodies in India is creating a new dynamic of development with a human face.

    School enrolment in your country has increased from 1 million to 7 million since 2002 and enrolment of girls has doubled over the past four years.

    I know that it is your topmost priority to put every child in school and keep him or her there. In India the mid-day meal scheme has been very successful in our schools. We have been supplying fortified biscuits to Afghan school children for the last few years.

    But what we teach our children is equally important. In India we have recently overhauled the school curriculum. What children learn in school should be related to their lives outside it. They should imbibe a sense of nationhood and values of tolerance and respect for others. They should be taught about the importance of the environment. Education should stimulate and open their minds to creative thought and imagination. The hopes and dreams of our nations rest on the little shoulders of our children. So we need to teach them well.

    I know that Afghanistan has made strides in providing health care to its people over the past decade. We would be happy to strengthen the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and the work of our medical missions in different provinces.

    Building infrastructure is another challenge. We have tried to provide such assistance as we could to provide electricity and roads in Afghanistan.

    I am happy that the transmission line built from Pul-e-Khumri is now bringing a steady supply of electricity to the capital.

    I am happy that the sacrifices made in building the Zaranj - Delaram highway have not gone in vain. The population of Zaranj has increased. Trade is thriving and customs revenues have grown.

    Honourable Members,

    The people of India feel privileged to see their development cooperation receive such a warm welcome in Afghanistan. Nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to see Indian resources being utilized for more roads, more electricity, more schools, more hospitals or more community projects - activities that directly benefit the common Afghan people.

    We will increase development outlays towards capacity building and skill development. This will include more scholarships for Afghan students for studying in India, institution building efforts, social development and higher investment in the health sector by way of a medical package. We will provide buses for Kabul and other municipalities.

    We propose to upgrade the agricultural department at the Kabul University to an agricultural university, donate tractors to farmers and give scholarships for the study of agricultural sciences.

    We will significantly enhance our commitment for the Small Development Projects Scheme across provinces to further facilitate development at the grassroots with the involvement of local communities.

    We will help in the preservation and revival of Afghanistan’s archeological and cultural heritage and restoration of the historic Stor Palace in Kabul.

    The total outlay on these and other additional initiatives that we will take in consultation with the government of Afghanistan in the next few years will amount to 500 million US dollars. This will take our total commitment of assistance to around 2 billion US dollars.

    Honourable Members,

    Our ambitions and aspirations for growth and prosperity cannot be realized unless there is peace and tranquility that will allow our people to live and work in honour and dignity.

    I pay tribute to all those innocent men, women and children who have lost their lives in the search for a better tomorrow. The people of India feel and share the pain and suffering of their Afghan brothers and sisters.

    Terrorism and extremism are alien ideas to our people. They bring only death and destruction in their wake. They provide no answers to the problems of poverty, illiteracy, hunger and disease. They have no place in a civilized society. Eventually, our centuries old traditions of peaceful co-existence, of living in peace and harmony with each other and with nature will prevail over these deviant ideologies. We cannot and must not allow the flames of extremism and terrorism to be fanned once again.

    Afghanistan has embarked upon a process of national reconciliation. We wish you well in this enterprise. It is up to you, as the peoples’ representatives, to make decisions about your country’s future without outside interference or coercion. This is your sovereign right. India will respect the choices you make and the decisions you take.

    Our only interest is to see a stable, peaceful and independent Afghanistan living in peace with its neighbours.

    We hope that Afghanistan will be able to build a framework of regional cooperation that will help its nation building efforts.

    As Afghanistan moves towards assuming full responsibility for its security, we stand ready to widen our cooperation in this area.

    Honourable Members,

    The people of this region have lived together for centuries. This is our region and we have to survive together and flourish together.

    While the international community can help, ultimately it is the people of the region who must take charge of their own future.

    We have to learn to solve our problems ourselves. This is the lesson of history.

    Honourable Members,

    Afghanistan’s entry into the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation was a historic step. We must invest and work together for our common future. The countries of South Asia have been most prosperous and stable when they have been well connected to each other and the world. Geography and history make it imperative that we cooperate to realize our common destiny.

    If we are to build a common regional identity, we need to learn more about each other. I have often said that we know more about the countries of the West than we do about each other. That is why it is very important to multiply our people to people contacts.

    Honourable Members,

    Yesterday, President Karzai and I have agreed on a Declaration of Strategic Partnership.

    We have agreed to reinvigorate our relationship in all sectors on the basis of mutual respect and mutual equality.

    This will be a long term partnership. Its main pillars will be greater political interaction, a comprehensive economic partnership, a trade development strategy, a social development strategy, an agricultural outreach strategy, a cultural development strategy, and a civil society strategy. A Partnership Council will be set up under the two Foreign Ministers.

    I would especially like to underline the decision to enhance people to people exchanges, including between intellectuals, youth, women and the media.

    Parliamentary exchanges are extremely useful and helpful. I would suggest for your consideration the formation of an India-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Forum.

    We will revitalize links between our business and trading communities so that Afghanistan’s economy can fully benefit from India’s economic growth.

    Honourable Members,

    I am happy that the people of Afghanistan are emerging from the ravages of war and rebuilding the country as a peaceful home for the confluence of cultures, for commerce and development and where the countries of the region cooperate rather than compete with each other.

    As an abiding friend, India will always stand by you in this noble task. We have always stood by our Afghan friends and I want to reaffirm that we will do so in future as well.

    I once again thank you for giving me this great honour of sharing some of my thoughts with you.

    I am deeply grateful to President Karzai for his personal friendship, and thank the people and Government of Afghanistan for the warm hospitality extended to me during my stay in this beautiful country.

    Long live India-Afghanistan friendship

    Kabul
    May 13, 2011
     

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