India against troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

India has said it remains committed to partnering Kabul in building a peaceful, stable, democratic and pluralistic nation.

United Nations: Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, India on Friday warned against any "hurry" in withdrawing troops from the country, saying such a move should be done keeping in mind the ground realities and not just to meet any deadline.

"For peace, stability and security in Afghanistan, it is imperative that the ongoing transition must be linked to the ground realities rather than rigid timetables. This, the international community in its hurry to withdraw from a combat
role in Afghanistan, will ignore at its own peril," India`s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said.

Pointing out that extremist groups continue to attack high-security targets and assassinate important political figures such as former president Burhanudin Rabbani, Puri said gains on the security front cannot be consolidated unless the
international community is able to firmly deal with safe havens for terrorist groups outside Afghanistan`s borders.

He said the "syndicate of terrorism" including al Qaeda, LeT and other extremist groups operating from within and outside Afghan borders must be rooted out for stability in the country.

"For security and stabilisation of Afghanistan, it is important to isolate and root out the syndicate of terrorism which includes elements of the al Qaeda, Taliban, Laskar-e-Toiba and other terrorist and extremist groups operating from within and outside Afghanistan`s borders.

"These groups are ideologically and operationally fused and their bonds have strengthened over the years," he said.

Citing the UN Secretary General`s report on Afghanistan, Puri said the average monthly number of security incidents this year is up 39 percent as compared to the same period in 2010.

While the process of transition of security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces has commenced since July, 2011, it is "indeed worrisome that there
has been no let up in terrorist violence."

These attacks point to a dangerous "osmosis of ideologies, ambitions, training and operations" among the syndicate of terrorism in the region with suicide terrorism as
its main technique and targets not limited to Afghanistan, Puri added.

He reiterated India`s commitment to partnering with the government and people of Afghanistan in building a peaceful, stable, democratic and pluralistic nation.

"We support further strengthening of the Afghan National Security Forces. We fully support an Afghan-led inclusive and transparent process of reconciliation."

It must be accompanied by an inclusive political process and intra-Afghan dialogue" which includes renunciation of violence, cutting of ties to terrorist groups and
protections of human rights, including the rights of women, Puri said.

India`s two billion dollar assistance to Afghanistan spans a plethora of economic and social development activities.

Indian companies have expressed interest in tapping into Afghanistan`s iron ore reserves and India is also participating in the TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline project.

"We have always considered Afghanistan as a South Asian country with natural complementarities and synergies with other countries of South Asia and one which is uniquely placed to build bridges even beyond it.

"India`s rapidly growing economy and its large market make it a natural destination for Afghan exports."

At the same time, India can also be a cost effective and efficient source of Afghan imports, Puri said.

Addressing the meeting, US envoy to the UN Susan Rice said even as the security situation in Afghanistan continues to present challenges, "our goal remains to shift
gradually to a supporting role."

She said Rabbani`s tragic assassination has only strengthened US` resolve to work in support of the Afghan government, end the insurgency and pursue justice against those who fund, direct and carry out violence.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura stressed the need to seize the window of opportunity for dialogue and reconciliation that exists, despite the recent killing of Rabbani.

"There is no alternative to a political solution...The priority must continue to be a dialogue among Afghans themselves, led by them, with non-Afghans like all of
us playing a supportive role."

Afghanistan`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Zalmai Rassoul told the meeting that despite efforts to stabilise the country, Afghans still suffer from an endless campaign of terror carried out by Afghanistan`s enemies.

"To help end the conflict, and meet the demands and aspirations of the Afghan people for a durable, dignified and inclusive peace, we will work to bring back to social, economic and political life all members of the armed opposition willing to renounce violence, sever ties with terrorist groups, and accept our constitution," he said.

As Afghanistan moves towards the 2014 transition, nations have to get together to create an environment that attracts private-sector investment in the country, Rice said.

In this context, Afghan-led venture `New Silk Road` will help the country and its neighbours to maximise the value of their natural resources, build human capacity, create jobs, generate revenue to pay for needed services, and capitalize on
the region`s economic potential, Rice said.

"The New Silk Road initiative will reinforce the search for diplomatic solutions to end the war in Afghanistan," she said.

Puri said India too supports the New Silk Road initiative, which will be an important step for the economic development of Afghanistan.


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