India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday, India was committed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s economy and to promote an agenda “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled” reconciliation and peace process across the war-torn Afghan country.
On the sidelines of first India-Central Asia Dialogue, India, including Afghanistan’s officials focused on a plethora of several regional issues including enhancing the connectivity to the country, according to NDTV news reports.
While addressing the first session of the summit, Swaraj said: “I would like to specifically point out that our region is facing serious challenges posed by terrorism. India, Central Asia, and Afghanistan are societies which are tolerant and plural. The ideology of hate which the terrorists would like to spread has no place in our societies.”
She said, “We also need to ask that who these terrorists are, who funds them, how they find sustenance, who protects and sponsors them.”
Swaraj said: “No business development, no investment can take place in a country suffering from terrorism. To promote business development in our region, we agreed to fight the scourge of terrorism together.”
The Indian minister also offered to extend its partnership to Central Asia as well as where India could bring several countries closer by sharing its expertise and taking up concrete projects under lines of buyer’s credit and credit.
Swaraj said more of efficient connectivity would lead to a full realization of potential growth of the region. She said, “We are geographically close and, in terms of air connectivity, only about three hours away,” adding that time has come to undertake more efficient development of transit routes, and also to better utilize the existing opportunities and find the innovations solutions.
She said: “India has proposed the setting up of the ‘India-Central Asia Development Group’ to take forward this development partnership between India and Central Asian countries. The group will come up with concrete proposals.”
Citing the efforts made by Afghanistan, Iran, and India that has led to the development of the Chabahar port in Iran, Swaraj said, “Chabahar provides a shining example of what strong partnership can achieve to overcome any obstacles.”
She said, “India has already sent a very substantial quantity of wheat to Afghanistan using the Chabahar port. Last month, an Indian company opened its office and took over operations at the Shaheed Beheshti port at Chabahar.”
“India supports the people and government of Afghanistan in their efforts to build a united, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable, prosperous and inclusive nation. India supports all efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan which are inclusive and Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj said that “these efforts should preserve the gains of the last 18 years. The violence and terror imposed on Afghan people should end. It should strengthen unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country”.
Under the “New Development Partnership” executed in September 2017, new projects such as low-cost housing in Nangarhar province, Shahtoot Dam drinking water project for Kabul city, 116 High Impact Community Development Projects and a host of other infrastructure development projects are being undertaken, said Swaraj. She also said more than 3,500 Afghan nationals are being trained and provided education in India every year.
The MEA earlier said that the first-ever India-Central Asia Dialogue, with Afghan participation, “will take India’s outreach to the region to a new high.”