We won't keep India out, says Afghan NSA

Afghanistan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta on Tuesday reiterated the need for New Delhi remaining intimately engaged with Kabul in order to help it develop infrastructure, train civil servants and provide guidance on the global stage.

Mr. Spanta disfavoured suggestions by Afghanistan's neighbours to keep India out, and said his government believed that no country had the right to impose strategic allies on another country.

Investigations by the Afghan security services, he said, found that the attackers of the Indian Embassy and later a guest house in Kabul had links with elements outside the country.

Acknowledging the role being played by the United States, which loses two or three soldiers everyday, the Afghan leader felt that Washington would have to effect a “paradigm change” in dealing with Pakistan, otherwise the border areas would continue to remain a safe haven for terrorists.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Spanta, a former Foreign Minister who belongs to the secular camp, said his government would like to see India more involved in the developing situation — first in bilaterals and then in all regular approaches related to Afghanistan.

“We would also like India engage for us in international issues,” he said, acknowledging that its assistance enabled Afghanistan to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and develop cooperative linkages in the region.

Denying that Kabul had plans to involve New Delhi in training soldiers or policemen, Mr. Spanta noted that India's involvement was in projects that were “strategic to us” and wanted it to remain involved in different sectors of Afghanistan. “They [projects by India] are a precondition for sustainable development in Afghanistan. We want to see greater Indian engagement in these fields. They are fundamental for the future of our country.”

In a far cry from his no-holds barred attack, in an article in The Washington Post, on Pakistan for providing encouragement and support to Taliban fighters, Mr. Spanta was guarded in his comments on the Pakistani Army, but continued to blame foreign intelligence agencies for continuing to meddle in his country from safe havens in other countries.

Asked whether President Hamid Karzai, by talking to Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had accepted that the services called the shots in Islamabad, Mr. Spanta said that because the Pakistani Army was a “very special institution, our civilian leader has to talk to this institution to win its cooperation and collaboration.”

At the same time, he said Afghanistan would never accept any attempt by a country to gain a dominant position in determining the destiny of other people.

Asked about Kabul's approach to making use of mineral wealth, Mr. Spanta said his government would first understand the positive and negative aspects of resource exploitation in African countries. “We want to make this mineral wealth the foundation for implementation of sustainable development, to make the future of the people secure. There will be transparent and open bidding as per international norms.”

On the particular variant of Wahhabi Islam being pursued by opponents to the Kabul regime, Mr. Spanta pointed out that religion in Afghanistan had been part of its life and culture for hundreds of years.

“It is not possible to do anything in Afghanistan without Islam. But extremists have been the product of the last three decades beginning with Soviet invasion. There was financial and other support by many nations including western countries. Their [Al-Qaeda and the Taliban] first action has been to eliminate moderate Muslims, including traditional Afghan tribal chiefs. This is a real challenge we have to go back to.”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 6:35:56 PM |

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