India has welcomed the Presidential and Provincial Council elections held in Afghanistan on Thursday and is confident that the democratic exercise will strengthen democracy and pluralism.

In a statement, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna noted that the exercise was one of the largest in the history of Afghanistan and said that as a long-standing friend of the Afghan people it was gratifying to see the democratic process taking strong root there.

Despite the complex security environment and threats from terrorist groups, candidates campaigned fearlessly and new voters registered themselves in large numbers. “As a fellow developing country and democracy, we remain strongly supportive of the election process and democratic institutions of Afghanistan. We admire the courage and determination of the Afghan voters and all the candidates in participating in this process despite the intimidation and violence which the opponents of democracy have subjected them to. We are confident that the current elections will strengthen democracy and pluralism in Afghanistan,’’ he observed.

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