Building ties with India is in interest of Afghanistan: Karzai Building ties with India is in interest of Afghanistan: Karzai PTI Wednesday, May 06th, 2009 AT 1:05 PM Tags: Pakistan, Indo-Afghan ties, Hamid Karzai, India WASHINGTON: Dismissing Pakistan's strong objection to the growing Indo-Afghan ties, President Hamid Karzai has said Kabul would continue to build on the relations with New Delhi which were in the interest of the war-ravaged country. Stating that Afghanistan is a sovereign State, he added that his Government has the right to decide what is in the best national interest of the country and no one can and none so far have been able to dictate those terms to its people. "We fought the Soviets. We fought the British. We fought everybody else because we wanted to keep this sense that we are independent, our sovereignty. For that reason, we are requesting our friends in Pakistan that we will have relations with India because we are sovereign, and we will have relations with India because it's in our interest," the Afghan President said at the prestigious Brookings Institute. However, Karzai, who is here for a trilateral summit also involving US President Barack Obama and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, said Afghanistan's relations with India will never be against its ties with Pakistan or at the expense of relations with Islamabad. "It will be a contribution of relations to Pakistan," he said responding to a question from Bruce Riedel, an ex-CIA official and co-chair of US inter-agency panel that formulated the new Af-Pak policy in March. Pakistan, in particular its army and the ISI, has been wary of increasing relationship between India and Afghanistan. In no uncertain terms, its officials have told the US and also the Karzai Government that it does not want Indian presence in Afghanistan as Islamabad feels that such a scenario would be a threat to the security of Pakistan. Both Afghanistan and the United States have rejected Islamabad's contention in this regard. Hailing New Delhi for its role in the development of Afghanistan post-Taliban, Karzai said, "India has contributed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan over USD 1 billion in significantly important projects, in transmission lines for electricity, a very important road, the building the Afghan Parliament and all that, a very powerful relationship." Identifying India as an old Afghan friend for many, many years, Karzai said New Delhi has contributed massively to Afghanistan in the past seven years. "It gives us 1,000 scholarships each year for Afghan graduates, 500 graduates in higher studies, 500 vocation trainings. We have had as a result of that, in the past five years, hundreds of Afghans return to serve their country," Karzai said.