India announces $500 million more development aid for Afghanistan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday demanded a thorough investigation into how Osama bin Laden could live in Pakistan for so long before he was eliminated.

“One needs to go in for a thorough investigation into the presence of Osama bin Laden for such a long time in Abbottabad,” he said at a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after their talks.

The Prime Minister is here on a two-day visit.

“New situation”

He said bin Laden's death had created a “new situation,” and all the countries of the region — India, Pakistan and Afghanistan — would recognise this as a “unique moment” in the history of this region and work united to end the scourge of terrorism.

Asked whether India would adopt the type of operation carried out by the U.S. to eliminate the al-Qaeda chief in order to get the terrorists wanted by it, Dr. Singh said: “These are sensitive issues and we don't discuss strategies on terror in press conferences.”

He added: “We are not the U.S.,” implying that India did not favour such an operation.

Dr. Singh expressed the hope that the world community would use its increasing amount of influence to persuade all the countries in the region that the future does not belong to having continued recourse to the scourge of terrorism.

“Our experience in the past has been rather frustrating and disappointing. But one cannot lose hope,” he said.

In his opening remarks, he announced a fresh commitment of $500 million to Afghanistan in the next few years for development. “This will consist of specific projects and schemes and other initiatives that will be developed in consultation with the government of Afghanistan,” he said reiterating India's “firm and unwavering” commitment to assisting that country in areas that are of priority and concern to them.

Broadly, he said, India would increase its focus on the social sector, agriculture, capacity-building and access to the Indian market, and continue with its infrastructure projects.

“Our development assistance commitment to Afghanistan currently stands at approximately $1.5 billion spread over several sectors, but there are still gaps. We now have a better idea of where we can and should do more,” Dr. Singh said.

On the presence of international forces in Afghanistan, he said it was a matter to be decided by the people and the government of Afghanistan.

Dr. Singh added that the strategic partnership would be implemented under the framework of a Partnership Council, which would be headed by the two Foreign Ministers.