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India to continue developmental work in Afghanistan

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.

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.


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