As world leaders backed handing over Afghanistan’s security responsibility to its government by 2014, India on Tuesday said that any new process to stabilise the war-torn nation must be fully “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” and sought an end to sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorists from outside.
The international community should ensure that there is no selectivity in dealing with terrorism, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in a statement at the international conference on Afghanistan, where he supported the peace process which, he added, should be “inclusive and transparent.”
“Terrorism cannot be compartmentalised. Today, one cannot distinguish between al-Qaeda and plethora of terrorist organisations which have imbibed the goals and techniques of al-Qaeda.
“It is therefore, essential to ensure that support, sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorist organisations from outside Afghanistan are ended forthwith,” he told the delegates, including his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi who was among the 30-odd Foreign Ministers present at the meet.
He said any new process to stabilise the war-torn country must be “fully Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and carry all sections of the nation’s population.”
Describing India and Afghanistan as “historic friends,” Mr. Krishna, speaking to a galaxy of world leaders including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said New Delhi has contributed to this country’s efforts in nation-building and reconstruction “entirely in accordance with the priorities of the Afghan government and people.”
“The international community must learn lessons from past experiences at negotiating with fundamentalist and extremist organisations and ensure that any peace process is conducted in an inclusive and transparent manner,” Mr. Krishna said in a statement at the International Conference on Afghanistan here.
“India also supports Afghanistan’s efforts towards peace and reintegration. But for such effort to succeed, it must be fully Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and carry all sections of Afghanistan’s population together as well as abide by the redlines agreed to at the London Conference,” he said.
The London Conference on Afghanistan, he noted, had emphasised on giving up violence, cutting off all links with terrorism -- whether ‘jehadi’ or state-sponsored -- and accepting the democratic and pluralistic values of the Afghan Constitution, including women’s rights.
Mr. Krishna emphasised that adequate capacity of the Afghan security forces and other Afghan institutions is a sine qua non for protecting Afghanistan’s sovereignty, plurality and democracy.
He said gains of the past nine years stand to be “squandered” if this aspect does not receive the attention that it deserves as the international community ponders its next steps on Afghanistan.
Mr. Krishna said that Afghanistan’s stability and development depended on the stand of its neighbours as well. “Afghanistan’s stability and economic development depends a lot on its neighbours and the region as a whole.”
The recent reports about Afghanistan’s great mineral wealth also opens up possibilities for mining and investment.
But for Afghanistan to realise its full potential, the country’s neighbours need to come together to forge greater regional cooperation and facilitate trade and transit, he said.
“Growing economic interdependence will also help in weaning disaffected youth away from insurgency and militancy and in creating a zone of co-prosperity in the region,” Mr. Krishna said, urging the Karzai government to take the lead in this regard.
“My country reiterates its commitment to stability, development and prosperity of the Afghan people and looks forward to working together closely with the government of Afghanistan and the international community in realising these objectives,” he said.
On India’s ongoing aid programmes in Afghanistan, the minister said the “ultimate aim of our assistance is to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan state and people to stand on their own feet in the areas of governance and services for the Afghan people.”
The biggest ever conference on Afghanistan has brought together delegates from 70 nations to chalk out the future of this country amidst a total lock—down of the Afghan capital.
Backing the move to hand over security responsibility to the elected Afghan government, Clinton earlier said that the US planned to accelerate this process.