Seeking to allay apprehensions, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said his country’s strategic partnership with India was not targeted against “twin brother” Pakistan.
“Pakistan is a twin brother, India is a great friend. The agreement that we signed yesterday with our friend will not affect our brother,” Mr. Karzai said during an interaction after delivering the Third R. K. Mishra Memorial lecture organised by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
He said neither India nor Afghanistan intended the strategic partnership to go beyond the two countries.
“The signing of the strategic partnership with India is not directed against any country. It is not directed against any other entity. This is for Afghanistan to benefit from the strength of India,” Mr. Karzai said.
In his address, the Afghan leader said there was nothing new in the strategic partnership as the two countries have been engaged for the past few years during which India has offered over 2000 scholarships for Afghan students, built roads and the Zaranj-Delaram Highway, raised power transmission lines from North Afghanistan to Kabul and built the Parliament building.
“This is all strategic. Yesterday, we only put in words what we have been doing all these years,” Mr. Karzai said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Karzai yesterday signed a strategic partnership agreement - the first such pact between Afghanistan and another country — under which India will increase its training of Afghan army and other security personnel.
“Afghanistan will not only not forget this but remain grateful to India forever,” Mr. Karzai said.