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Afghan President boosts ties with India, Bollywood style

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, acknowledging the 'love affair' between India and Afghanistan, has said if India continues with its current levels of support to his government for the next 20 years, his country would 'stabilise'.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Pune
UPDATED ON DEC 16, 2013 05:06 PM IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, acknowledging the "love affair" between India and Afghanistan, has said if India continues with its current levels of support to his government for the next 20 years, his country would "stabilise".

Addressing students of Symbiosis International University in Pune, Karzai on Sunday said his country would hold presidential elections April 5, 2014, and parliamentary polls in September 2014.

The polls would be successful, like Indian elections, because of "adherence to the constitution and participation of the masses", and democracy would firmly take root, the Afghan president said.

Carrying forward the simile from an old Hindi film song, "Aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charchein har zabaan par", (the stories of our love are nowadays on everybody's lips) rendered by students of Symbiosis during a cultural programme for Karzai, referring to the close ties between Kabul and New Delhi, the Afghan president said: "Pyar kiya toh darna kya," (Why should I be afraid for having loved).

Responding to questions from the students, Karzai said he had held out on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US because "basic values of morality" have to guide bilateral ties.

"How can someone barge into the house of innocents and harass and kill them," he asked.

"The pursuit of national interest should not be at the cost of morality and values. National interest, yes, but not at the cost of innocents," he said caustically, though he refrained from directly naming the United States, said a statement from Symbiosis International University.

He did not comment on the "wish-list" he has reportedly sought from the Indian government and did not confirm whether New Delhi had agreed to supply arms and weaponry. He said the two countries had signed a Security Cooperation Agreement (Afghanistan's first) and cooperated closely on all security-related matters, including areas like anti-terrorism, and training of armed forces and security personnel.

The Chabahar port in Iran, when ready, would greatly enhance commercial ties between the two countries, he said.

Karzai, who has also spent time as a university student in India, urged students to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them to study, work and play hard, and prepare themselves for future leadership roles.

Illustrating the depth of Indian assistance to Afghanistan, Karzai, set to demit office after presidential polls in April, said if India continued with current levels of support to the Afghan government for the next 20 years, his country would "stabilise".

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