India to continue developmental work in Afghanistan
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Last Updated: Saturday, March 06, 2010, 22:56
  
Kabul: Undeterred by last week's attack, India on Saturday declared that it will continue its developmental activities in Afghanistan without scaling down presence even as it suspended operations of its medical mission in Kabul hit by injuries to most of its members.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon asserted that India would continue to fulfill its developmental commitments towards Afghan people although there may be some adjustments in the way things are done.

Menon made the statement just before winding up his two-day visit here during which he met President Hamid Karzai and conveyed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's message that India's reconstruction activities would continue here.

In the message, Singh underlined India's continued support of reconstruction and efforts for regional stability, the Afghan Presidential spokesman said in a statement.

Singh pitched for enhanced historical relationship and closer cooperation between the two countries, the spokesman said. He also invited Karzai to India.

"We have development assistance programme and a cooperation programme which is essentially an effort to work with our Afghan friends and to do the things that they wanted us to do. That will continue," Menon told reporters here.

"We might adjust the way in which we do it but it is certain that our commitment to that developmental partnership will continue as it was," he said.

Menon was here to discuss security of Indians and future of India's assistance programmes in the aftermath of the February 26 attack in which those engaged in developmental projects were specifically targeted.

Menon ruled out scaling down of presence of Indian staff in the Kabul Embassy or any other mission but said security measures were being strengthened.

"There is no rethink on our commitment," the NSA said.

On the security aspect, he said Afghan authorities had assured that efforts would be made to strengthen protective measures for the 4000 Indians engaged in various reconstruction projects.

"I was very reassured by the set of measures that the Afghan authorities would be putting in place for the Indian community as a whole, not just for those in the Embassy and those working for government of India projects, but also for other Indians who are in Afghanistan helping the developmental effort and the rebuilding effort in Afghanistan," he said.

To a question on involvement of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Taiba terrorist outfit in the February 26 attack, Menon said investigations by the Afghan authorities were going on and he would not like to speak on this.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said in New Delhi that "the work of the Indian medical mission in Kabul has been temporarily suspended" in the aftermath of the terrorist attack targeting its staff.

Of the 11-member medical team -- six doctors and five para-medics -- one was killed in the attack and six others were injured, sources said.

Prakash said the medical missions in Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif were functioning normally.

The sources asserted that the medical mission in Kabul would not be wound up and operations would resume as soon as adequate staff is available again.

Indian medical mission was functioning from the Indira Gandhi Child Care Hospital set up under India's assistance programme. However, tele-medicine will continue to be available to Afghans from Chandigarh's PGI and a Lucknow hospital, the sources said.

The MEA spokesman said that the Embassy and its other offices in Afghanistan also continue to function normally in the face of extremely demanding and difficult circumstances, rubbishing reports that the staff was being scaled down.

Seven Indians, including three Major-rank officers of the Army, were among 18 people killed in the attack that targeted two hotels where Indians used to stay.

Prime Minister Singh yesterday told Parliament that the February 26 "cowardly" act of terrorists to target Indians on goodwill mission in Kabul would not "bend the will" of India to help people of Afghanistan.

Noting that India's assistance has received widespread support among the people of Afghanistan, he said India will continue to assist the people of Afghanistan in "securing their legitimate right to determine their destiny in the manner they chose without outside interference."

Besides meeting Karzai, Menon met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul and some top officials from the defence establishment discussing security of Indians and progress of investigation.

Karzai thanked India for its cooperation and assistance to Afghanistan and once again offered condolences to the mourning families and the people of India.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, March 06, 2010, 22:56


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