Updated: February 10, 2021 3:00:38 am
In a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that “no external power” can stop the development of Afghanistan or its friendship with India, and that both countries want to see their region free from the “grave threat of terrorism and extremism”.
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said that all stakeholders must be asked to respect “rules of sovereignty” and stop giving “sanctuaries” and interfering in the affairs of their neighbours, again alluding to Pakistan.
The two leaders were speaking at a virtual meeting organised to sign an MoU for construction of Lalandar dam by India in Afghanistan that would help meet drinking water requirement of Kabul city.
Modi expressed concern over increasing incidents of violence in Afghanistan, including targeting of innocent citizens, journalists and activists, and noted that India supports a comprehensive ceasefire to end the hostilities. “I want to assure every Afghan brother and sister, from Badakhshan to Nimroz and Herat to Kandahar, that India stands with you…”
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In his statement, Ghani said peace in Afghanistan is within the grasp if parties and their backers in the Taliban embrace a true political solution, seen as a clear reference to Pakistan. He said terrorism must be seen as a “full ecosystem” and not as isolated groups or individuals, and noted that “destructive forces” are threatening the future of the region.
Modi said strengthening internal unity among Afghan people is very important and exuded confidence that a united Afghanistan will be able to face any challenge. “No external power can stop the development of Afghanistan, or the India-Afghanistan friendship,” he said.
India has been a major stakeholder in Afghanistan and it has extended development assistance of approximately $3 billion in the last few years to the country.
Stating that India is concerned about the increasing violence in Afghanistan, Modi said, “We have called for an immediate end to the violence, and we immediately support a comprehensive ceasefire. Violence is a retaliation for peace, and the two cannot go together. As a close neighbour and strong strategic partner, both India and Afghanistan want to see their region free from the grave crisis of terrorism and extremism.”
Modi noted that India has been supportive of a peace process that is led, owned and controlled by Afghanistan. “In the success of Afghanistan, we see the success of India and its entire region,” he said.
Ghani said, “Peace in Afghanistan is within grasp if parties and their backers in the Taliban embrace a true political solution. But Afghan people will not submit or surrender. It must be understood that our security forces are not defeated.”
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