Indian, Afghan leaders pledge to fight militants, build trade

Modi says India should join an existing Afghan-Pakistan Trade and Transit agreement

Reuters April 28, 2015
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (C) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) as his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee looks on upon Ghani's arrival to attend a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's presidential palace. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on Tuesday for regional cooperation to defeat violent extremist groups, saying after meeting the Indian prime minister that he wants to "make Afghanistan a graveyard of terror" but needs help from India, Pakistan and other neighbours.

Ghani's visit to India comes amid his efforts to forge closer ties with neighbours Pakistan and China, prompting some Indian analysts to fret that New Delhi may be losing influence in Afghanistan.

"Terror cannot be classified into good and bad. It cannot be differentiated," Ghani said, after meeting India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a three-day state visit.

"We must have a unified approach, we must be united both in the region and globally to contain this terror."

Read: Afghanistan receives 3 Cheetal helicopters from India: report

Modi, for his part, pledged continued support for Afghanistan's fight against the Taliban and other violent extremists and renewed commitment to developing both land and sea trade routes with the country.

"We share Afghanistan's pain over persisting terrorism and extremist violence that destroy lives and derail progress," Modi said in remarks distributed by his office, adding that India would continue to help build the Afghan military and recently delivered three Cheetal helicopters.

Modi also said India should join an existing Afghan-Pakistan Trade and Transit agreement to allow goods to flow by land from Afghanistan to eastern India and back.

And he reaffirmed a commitment to move forward with developing a deep-water port in the Iranian city of Chabahar, which would give land-locked Afghanistan a route to the sea other than through Pakistan, India's regional arch-rival.

Read: Insurgent mortar attack kills five in Afghanistan: officials

"We believe that Afghanistan's direct surface link to India and the rest of South Asia, and increased connectivity to sea, could turn Afghanistan into a hub that connects Asia's diverse regions and beyond," Modi said.

Ghani thanked India for pouring $2.2 billion in aid into his country's development over the past decade and outlined an ambitious vision for his war-ravaged nation to achieve piece and return to its centuries-ago status as a crossroads for regional trade.

"Afghanistan was a roundabout, a place where ideas, people and goods came and flowed from South Asia to Central Asia to West Asia," Ghani said.

"Our vision today is to be guided by that potential where again the energy of Central Asia will flow to South Asia where pipelines, fiber optics, railways, and connectivity, air, ground and virtual will connect us."


Bobb Mack | 7 years ago | Reply Pakistan's task in bringing Taleban and Afghan Government closer to resolve their differences in a peaceful way must be the most complex undertaking of the century. Afghans know that despite their past concern the only country that can bring reconciliation between the two is only and only Pakistan. Afghanistan understands that Pakistan's past actions, good or bad, were primarily related to counter Indian objectives in the area rather than any malicious intentions as such. Pakistan's support to Afghanistan has always been well known including its support to Mujahedin in liberating their country. Unfortunately American attack on Afghanistan following 9/11 when Pakistan was forced to fight against Taleban took Pakistan by surprise and any peaceful co-existence it had achieved with Afghanistan fell apart. India for the first time got opportunity to play its games in Afghanistan including its intelligence agency RAW spreading flames in Baluchistan. Distancing from India is of utmost importance if Afghanistan has to achieve any meaningful stability. And that is well understood by the visiting President who in his joint address to the press, unlike his predecessor, was very cautious in choosing his words. Perhaps he understands that a neutral policy towards India and Pakistan would be the only right course in the current situation and there are signs that Afghanistan is now more inclined towards China or China-Pak collaboration. Hopefully he will also endeavour to take his CE Abdullah, with him!
Ibrar | 7 years ago | Reply China is best placed to assist Afghanistan from its current state of turmoil. It could benefit hugely from China's recently well publicised Economic Corridor while Pakistan should continue to play its role in fighting common enemy and bringing peace. Afghan-China future collaboration will be a real chance to rebuild and strengthen economy in the area while US should continue to pull out as it is already doing . India should keep away as its presence in Afghanistan is very likely to keep the region unstable - Afghanistan does not need too many cooks and crooks.
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