India pledges $50 mn more to Afghanistan
The additional assistance takes India's total contribution to $650 million for Afghanistan's reconstruction.india Updated: May 01, 2006 12:20 IST
India and Afghanistan want Pakistan to "join hands" to fight terrorism even as New Delhi pledged $50 million more for the reconstruction of the strife-torn country that is increasingly turning to it for strengthening democracy.
"We discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and expressed concern at the increased terrorist activities in some parts of the country," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint press conference at Hyderabad House with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Manmohan Singh and Karzai discussed the whole range of bilateral and regional issues, including ways to strengthen cooperation for fighting terrorism and boosting stability in the region.
The additional assistance announced on Monday takes India's total contribution to $650 million for Afghanistan's reconstruction in a slew of projects ranging from roads and infrastructure to grass-roots development.
After the talks, two accords were signed regarding exchanges in the field of education and rural development. Another memorandum of agreement was signed between the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Afghanistan National Standardisation Authority.
The two leaders called for cooperation between India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the "menace of terrorism" affecting the entire region.
"India has been a victim of terrorism for nearly twenty years. Both India and Afghanistan have suffered due to terrorism. Even Pakistan is not immune to terrorism," said Manmohan Singh.
"I very much hope that all of us in this region will join hands to fight this menace," said Karzai. He also underlined Afghanistan's determination to "resolutely go ahead with reconstruction of the country despite incidents of violence."
"Confronting the shared challenges of fundamentalism and terrorism, the two leaders condemned global terrorism as a threat to democracy and declared that there can be no compromise with its perpetrators," said a joint statement after the talks between Manmohan Singh and Karzai.
"Terrorism is affecting all countries in the region. It is affecting our brothers in Pakistan. We will find a more effective way to deal with this menace," said Karzai in response to a question on Pakistan's role in fuelling terrorism in Afghanistan and in the region.
Karzai expressed his gratitude to India for "going out of its way to help us in rebuilding lives in Afghanistan and in strengthening infrastructure and institutions of democracy."
He also thanked India for facilitating Afghanistan's entry into the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Afghanistan will be admitted as the seven-nation grouping's eighth member at its summit in New Delhi early next year.
The vision of a stable and prosperous South Asia animated the discussions between Manmohan Singh and Karzai.
Manmohan Singh again asked Karzai to use his "good offices" with Pakistan to push for overland transit rights for Indians goods through its territory - a step that will connect South Asia to Central Asia and promote greater prosperity in the region.
"The issue of transit between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is extremely significant for the three countries," said Karzai. "We hope a day will come when goods and people can move freely from India to Afghanistan and Central Asia through the overland route in Pakistan.
Afghanistan can become a hub for launching products in Central Asia," he added.
Manmohan Singh said he had received assurances from Karzai about the security of over 2,000 Indian workers involved in a range of projects in Afghanistan.
"Threats will not be allowed to come in the way of timely and successful completion of these projects," the prime minister stressed.