June 28, 2012 5:44:08 pm
India today strongly pitched for private investments in Afghanistan saying the grey suits of company executives should replace fatigues of soldiers and CEOs should take the place of Generals.
On its part,the war-torn but resource-rich country assured “unreserved” support and tried to assuage the fears of investors maintaining that Afghan government was endeavouring to ensure the security and safety.
Cautioning that the military drawdown (by 2014) should not result in a “political or security vacuum” that will be filled by extremists once again,External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said,”We feel that foreign investment and domestic private sector development,both small and large scale,can play that role.
“Let the grey suits of company executives take the place of olive green or desert brown fatigues of soldiers; and CEOs,the place of Generals” and added “that there should be something productive in its place.”
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Krishna was inaugurating the ‘Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan’ attended by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and officials and businessmen from 33 countries,including Pakistan,China,Russia,the US and Iran.
“Despite high level of return on investments and our efforts and measures to create enabling environment for investment,one of the major factors,which has significant impact on the level of investor interest in Afghanistan,is concern over security.
“While it’s true that there are certain areas in Afghanistan where security situation is no ideal,we should remember that these areas represent a small part of the country,” Rassoul said.
Krishna said by virtue of its contiguity and proximity,the countries in the region have an important role to play in the security,stability and prosperity of Afghanistan and the region particularly as NATO forces draw down from a combat to a train,advise and assist role.
“I especially call upon companies from the region to invest in Afghanistan for mutual benefit to create a virtuous cycle of healthy economic competition in Afghanistan,” he said adding this attention (investment focus) and assistance will be necessary not just for Afghanistan’s good,”but to our own security,that of Afghanistan,its neighbours,the region and the world at large.
“Let us not forget why the world returned to Afghanistan in 2001”.
Krishna said the holding of a major investment meet on Afghanistan when NATO forces draw down by 2014 and terrorism continues to take a toll of lives,may at first sight appear “counter-intuitive’.
“Afghanistan may not be the easiest destination to sell to an investor. But India has ventured to do so,” he said.
He also said that despite over 11 years of heightened international attention and foreign assistance,Afghanistan continues to remain a special case for development and technical assistance in years to come.
He said development,security and technical assistance alone is not enough and that the Bonn,Chicago and upcoming Tokyo Conferences,and the Istanbul process on regional confidence-building,demonstrate the will of the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan.
“But both military interventions and foreign aid are to a large extent influenced by public opinion and prevailing economic conditions.
“We need something more enduring,something based on self-interest rather than generosity that can move the country towards greater self-reliance and inter-dependence,” Krishna said.
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