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Don't underestimate Qaeda, India tells UN

EAM Pranab Mukherjee wants a robust international response to the challenge of terrorism faced by Afghanistan.

world Updated: Sep 24, 2007 23:30 IST

India on Monday cautioned the international community against underestimating the ferocity of the resurgence of Taliban and Al-Qaeda and wanted a robust international response to the challenge of terrorism faced by Afghanistan.

"India shares the deep concerns of the international community at the security situation. We cannot and must not underestimate the ferocity of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda resurgence," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told a high level meeting on Afghanistan organised by the United Nations.

Mukherjee said the security challenges faced by Kabul like suicide attacks and cross border infiltration should be addressed realistically.

"None of us can afford to improvise partial solutions that seemingly provide temporary relief. There is no option to remaining resolute and determined," he told the meeting attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Calling for providing "appropriate tactical response, including both security and enforcement measures" as also economic and development strategies, Mukherjee stressed on the need for turning high-level political commitment into concrete outcomes that will create conditions for greater national ownership and leadership of security, reconstruction and development process.

Reaffirming India's commitment to long-term development of Afghanistan, Mukherjee stressed on the need for turning high-level political commitments into concrete outcomes, which according to him will create conditions for national development.

Talking about the assistance being given by India to help development of the conflict-torn country, the Minister said New Delhi was committed to the long term reconstruction of Afghanistan. He also emphasised the need for donor-led development process in the country.

India, he said, had pledged over $750 million in assistance and already release over $300 million. India's assistance, he told the meeting, covers virtually all regions of Afghanistan and includes areas ranging from infrastructure projects to small development projects, and capacity-building assistance.

Mukherjee said India was "fully convinced" that the key to the sustainability of the work being undertaken in Afghanistan would be to develop human resources in the country.

For this, he suggested a multi-pronged approach which will ensure that skills are transferred to the Afghan people and that employment opportunities exist in the fields where these skills are transferred. So far, India, he said, has trained more than 2,700 Afghan citizens in India.

Since 2006, we have embarked upon a programme of annually training 500 Afghan public officials in short-term courses and 500 Afghan students at University-level courses in India.

India is also implementing a capacity-development programme in public administration with UNDP for deputation of 30 Indian civil servants to the various Afghan Ministries, he added.

India, Mukherjee said, has taken up projects in virtually all regions of Afghanistan, covering almost all sectors, including education, health, telecommunication, transport, civil aviation, agriculture and irrigation, industry, power generation and transmission, information and broadcasting as well as human resource development.

In the second phase of assistance, he explained India's priority was on Small Development Projects and it would focus on the participation of the local communities, which will be able to provide aid to the provinces that have not yet seen the benefits of development.

"Our diverse assistance programme is fully aligned with Afghan priorities and is implemented in close coordination with the Afghan stake-holders, focusing particularly on local implementation, management and ownership of assets," Mukherjee added.

Pointing out that regional aspect is crucial in the reconstruction, Mukherjee said the challenge was in developing coordinated measures to implement programmes formulated in regional processes covering cross border terrorism, law enforcement, land transit as well as broader investment, trade and business issues.

"India is willing to take on any appropriate supportive role in the regional cooperation process in the context of Afghanistan's reconstruction," Mukherjee told the meeting.

An effective national communications and public outreach strategy, to which the Afghan government already attaches high priority, remains a compelling policy element, he said, adding this will involve creation of the appropriate support infrastructure and dissemination systems, to reach out to the people at the sub-national levels.

"This will not only assuage overloaded public expectations, but also helps mainstream the provinces into the national polity," he added.

Ultimately, Mukherjee said, all the different political and developmental processes in place in Afghanistan must be "Afghan-ized", with Afghan-led identification, prioritization implementation, ownership and management of the projects.