Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Friday thanked India for its “generous contributions” in reconstructing the war-torn nation and slammed Pakistan for its role in destabilizing the country. However, he added, Afghanistan would continue to extend hands of friendship to all its neighbours including Pakistan. Delivering the 24th Sapru House Lecture here, Abdullah, who is on a visit to India to enhance ties between the two countries, said terror was a threat to all nations and that a stable Afghanistan would benefit all countries in the region. He said Afghanistan faced some “serious challenge” when it came to its relations with Pakistan. “The fact that there are groups based in Pakistan which are threatening the security of Afghanistan and (they) continue to receive support and continue to embark upon destabilizing activities and acts of terror in Afghanistan. That is a very serious challenge for us and for the whole region,” Abdullah said.
Referring to Pakistan, he added that there were some “very clear lessons in the past when some of the terrorist groups created for other purposes turned against those who created them and started to pose a threat and continue to do so. “Our message is very clear: Afghanistan’s civility and prosperity is in the interest of the region. Afghanistan has no bad intention towards any neighbouring country. “We have extended and will continue to extend hands of friendship to all its neighbours and countries of the region. And we expect reciprocation,” Abdullah said, adding his country would continue the dialogue process with neighbours to address common challenges. He said countries needed to decide that “terrorism would not be used as a tool for foreign policy”.
Referring to India, the Afghan leader said its contributions had made a difference to lives of millions of Afghan people. “Relations between Afghanistan and India, which are founded in the bonds of history and culture of both nations, have been strengthened in the past 16 years with your generous contributions that made a difference to lives of millions of people,” he said. Abdullah added that India’s support in many fields including education, infrastructure and security had “contributed in its own way in stabilization of our country and pursuit of our democratic aspirations and also betterment of lives of our people”. He said while he was supposed to arrive in India a day earlier, his visit was delayed “because of the terrorist attack on Kabul International Airport”. “But I was determined to come. Terrorist attacks may have caused us some delay but they could not stop us.”
He said while on one side there were aspirations and efforts of millions to create a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, on the other there were efforts of a “tiny minority” to destroy lives of people through acts of terror. “But our wisdom says that human dignity will prevail and acts of terror would be condemned to fail.” He said “terror is terror” and that there should be no differentiation when it comes to terror: “good and bad terrorist groups”.
Abdullah said Afghanistan can play its “rightful” role as a bridge between South Asia and Central Asia. “We are working together – India and Iran have taken lead – towards operationalisation of Chabahar. We hope, as India has annouced, it would contribute further, that one year target of full operationalisation of Chabahar would be met.” He said India, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries would benefit from this. “We will witness the first act of operationalisation by receiving shipments of wheat through Chabahar in a few days time. But further work would continue,” Abdullah added. Iran’s Chabahar port lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan. Once operationalised, India can bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan.