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Afghans seek India role in reconstruction

Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta has sought "comprehensive and extended" Indian cooperation in his country’s "reconstruction efforts and enhancement of our security capabilities".

delhi Updated: Aug 31, 2010 23:55 IST
Vinod Sharma

Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta has sought "comprehensive and extended" Indian cooperation in his country’s "reconstruction efforts and enhancement of our security capabilities".

Spanta's visit to India comes close on the heels of Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul. He made the remarks in response to a question whether New Delhi offered to train Afghan troops and police forces in his talks here.

Spanta held discussions with Indian counterpart Shiv Shankar Menon besides calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.

India's involvement in infrastructure projects in Afghanistan isn't to the liking of Pakistan whose military leadership is looking for strategic depth beyond its western borders. For his part, Spanta termed as "projects for sustainable development" the India-built Zaranj-Delaram road (giving landlocked Afghanistan access to sea through Iran) and transmission lines carrying power from central Asia to Kabul and beyond.

"Indian projects are future oriented infrastructure projects," he said at an interaction with mediapersons here.

The Afghan NSA is known for his strong views against the US support of Pakistan even while it nurtured and trained terrorist groups carrying out violent activities in Afghanistan. To a pointed query on Islamabad's quest for strategic depth, he said: "There are two ways of turning another country into strategic depth — by building economic and cultural ties towards creation of an economic market. I'm a supporter of this approach. We are for economic integration and more transit facilities (including to India). But the Afghan people will never accept anyone attempting to undermine their destiny or national sovereignty (in pursuit of strategic depth)."

He justified talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. "Our civilian President has to talk to them because the Army is a very special institution of Pakistan," he argued, adding: "We also maintain good relations with civilian rulers — President Asif Zardari, PM Yusuf Raza Gilani and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi."

Spanta said Karzai's talks with Kayani to put an end to violence and terrorism in Afghanistan, weren't complete.

"The dimension of destruction caused by floods in Pakistan has saddened us. We have contributed $5 million for relief," he said. In the same breath, he warned against "radical" mobilization of hundreds of thousands of flood-hit Pakistanis in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and other provinces if the elected government failed to come their aid and assistance.