India, according to Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, must not be deterred from its development commitment to Afghanistan despite the attacks on its diplomatic mission and other projects in the war-ravaged country.

This assertion was made by the Minister on Wednesday in the Lok Sabha, while responding to questions on the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul last month. Sharing the concern of Madhu Goud Yakshi (Congress) – who raised the issue – about the security of Indian personnel both in the embassy and on various projects, he said: “The development commitment is extremely important for us to maintain in Afghanistan.”

Pointing out that the absence of Indian fatalities in the October attack on the Indian embassy was testimony to the measures taken since the July 2008 terror strike on the same premises, the Minister said: “We must not be deterred, we must not be intimated by these killers from the path we have chosen, which is that of support for the Afghan people and for upholding our legitimate interests and concerns in this region through our work in Afghanistan.”

Asked by Maneka Gandhi (Bharatiya Janata Party) about India’s stand on the American intervention in Afghanistan, Mr. Tharoor said India has essentially stayed out of the debate on the security measures at the request of the elected government of Afghanistan.

Stating that India’s interests rest in ensuring that the pressure on Afghanistan’s Taliban and Al Qaeda elements is not eased as no purpose would be served by any form of accommodation of these elements, he added, “to that degree, we are supportive of the efforts that are being made by the United States and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation” without participating in military discussions.

About India’s development projects in Afghanistan, the Minister cited a Gallup poll which found that India’s role in the reconstruction of the country was praised highest by the Afghan people. While 56 per cent of Afghans praised India, only 51 per cent were appreciative of the United Nations. Similarly, in the economic development of Afghanistan, India got the highest rating.