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India asks the world to stay the course in Afghanistan


Washington : Asserting that India would not scale down in its operations in Afghanistan after the recent attacks on Indians there, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has asked the international community to stay the course in the war torn nation.

“The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is one of the foremost security related challenges faced by our region. We feel that it is vital for the international community to stay the course in Afghanistan,” she said in an address Monday at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, a Washington think tank.

The barbaric attack against Indians engaged in humanitarian and development work in Afghanistan on Feb 26 was an attack by those who do not wish any other future for that country except one that suits their sinister ambitions, Rao said.

“The international community should understand that such attempts, if unchecked, will only embolden the same forces that held sway in Afghanistan in the 1990s and caused the tragedy of 9/11,” she said.

“We are not scaling down our operations in Afghanistan, we are taking all necessary security measures to safeguard Indian lives there,” Rao responded when asked if India planned to cut back on its activities in Afghanistan after the Feb 26 attack.

Asking for caution in new initiatives on security, reintegration, and reconciliation in Afghanistan, Rao said: “We believe that any reintegration process should include only those who abjure violence, give up armed struggle and terrorism and are willing to abide by the values of democracy, pluralism and human rights.”

“One cannot stress enough the need to avoid compromises or differentiation between the so-called shades and hues of the Taliban,” she said stressing “That would be disastrous for Afghanistan and for the world. In short, there is no quick solution to the Af-Pak situation.”

Rao also opposed any sanctions on Iran that would have a direct impact on the common people of the country and hoped the issues between Tehran and the international community will be resolved through dialogue.

“It continues to be our view that sanctions that target Iranian people and cause difficulties to the ordinary man, woman and child would not be conducive to a resolution of this question,” she said in response to a question.

“We do not want more instability in that region. Iran is very much a part of our region. Iran for instance has a very important role to play in the developing situation in Afghanistan and we of course have strong bilateral ties with Iran,” Rao said