Delhi Backs Political Solution to Afghan Issue
ALMATY – India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday said the solution to Afghanistan’s problems cannot be purely military but has to be rooted in a political approach that enjoys a democratic sanction. Addressing the Ministerial Meeting of the Istanbul Process, Khurshid said: “We have no doubt the greatest challenge posed to the vision of Afghanistan is the persistent threat of terrorism that emanates from beyond its borders. Other countries of the region, especially India, are not immune to this threat.”
An honest commitment to the principles enshrined in this declaration would have to begin with an acknowledgment of the rising dangers posed by these forces of extremism and terrorism to the future of Afghanistan and the wider world as Afghanistan approaches critical transitions, he said. “We recognise that the solution to Afghanistan’s problems cannot be purely military but has to be rooted in a political approach that enjoys a democratic sanction.
“We are also glad to note that there is widespread agreement that an acceptable solution can only be one that comes from within Afghanistan,” he added. With this long-term vision in mind, India had taken a number of initiatives starting with the Strategic Partnership Agreement, the minister said, explaining their focus had been on the economic empowerment of Afghanistan.
In this regard, he referred to the elimination of basic customs duties on all Afghan products, access to Indian market, planned investment in the Hajigak iron ore mines and the Delhi investment summit in June 2012. “India does not see Afghanistan as a zone of competitive influence and wants it to be an area of opportunity for regional cooperation … while striving for realisation of this vision, we do not have any illusion that we can ignore political and security issues that stand in the way,” he concluded. (PAN)