M A I N   N E W S

Rebuilding of Afghanistan must go on: India
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, December 5
India today cautioned the international community not to repeat the mistakes of the past and ensure that Afghanistan does not once again slide back to the ‘dark ages’ of the 1990s.

“The international community must ensure that as it reduces its military commitment to Afghanistan, it increases rather than decreases its economic commitment to the security and rebuilding of Afghanistan,” External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said addressing an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn.

Emphasising that the international community came to Afghanistan because it was under the control of an extremist ideology and had become a sanctuary for international terror, he said terrorism radiated outwards to the region, firstly affecting India and then other countries.

“Today, we have to ask ourselves whether we have succeeded in eliminating terrorism, and the safe havens and sanctuaries from where it is emanating, right from its sources. We have to ask whether, if we withdraw our holding hand, Afghanistan will be able to withstand the forces of radicalism, extremism and violence and stand on its own feet,” Krishna added.

He cautioned about the real danger that as international forces withdraw from a combat role, there would be a transition ‘recession’ (attention and aid would decline, just as the security demands of the Afghan government increase.) “We must make sure that Afghanistan’s security is ensured through non-interference in its internal affairs,” the minister said, in an indirect reference to Pakistan’s attempt to gain a strategic depth in the war-torn nation.

Pakistan is boycotting the Bonn conference as a mark of protest against a NATO attack on a border checkpoint last month in which 24

Pakistani troops were killed. On Sunday, US President Barack Obama offered his condolences but Pakistan refused to reverse its decision not to attend the conference.

Welcoming the Bonn meeting, Krishna said it was an expression of the international community’s determination that even as it reduces its footprint in Afghanistan, it would not abandon the embattled country as it did in the 1990s. The conference marked a political commitment to stay engaged with Afghanistan well into the future.

He told nearly 1,000 delegates from about 100 countries and international organisations that India had recently signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan. Kabul, he noted, would sign similar accords with the US, EU, France, the UK and Australia in due course.

Krishna observed that Afghanistan today faced at least four deficits: a security deficit, a governance deficit, a development deficit and an investment deficit. Afghanistan would require enormous assistance for a long time if it was to address these four deficits adequately.

“We need to back up our commitments with both resources and actions. We need to avert the possibility that Afghanistan is let down or made to feel abandoned by a withdrawal of assistance, at least in terms of quantity if not quality, of international assistance required, in the era after 2014,” he added. 





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