4 August :Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the terror strike at the Indian Embassy in Kabul as an attack on Indo-Afghan friendship and further reiterated that it will in no way deter India from continuing its reconstruction of the war-torn country.
After holding wide ranging talks with the visiting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Monday morning, Singh announced a fresh assistance worth 450 million dollars for Afghanistan.
Later in a joint statement the two leaders reaffirmed their common interest in developing a robust, strategic partnership, building on the foundation of the historically rich ties and suited to the dynamic of the 21st century.
After his talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai against the "backdrop of serious threat posed by terrorism to security and stability of Afghanistan, India and the region", Singh said the two leaders agreed to fight the menace "unitedly and with firm determination".
Addressing mediapersons along with Karzai, Singh said the two leaders decided that they will not allow terrorism to stand in the way of the boosting the friendly relations between their countries.
The Prime Minister noted that Karzai’s visit was taking place at a "critical juncture" in India, Afghanistan and the region.
"The attack on our embassy in Kabul on July 7 has tragically shown that terrorism has no barriers and is not bound by restraints," Singh said.
"It was an attack on the friendship between India and Afghanistan," he said.
Condemning the embassy attack in Kabul as well as the serial bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, Karzai said Afghanistan and India face the same challenge of terrorism and "cold-blooded murderous activities".
He said the two countries as also the world at large have "no option but to be united in the fight against terrorism" as it is "our moral responsibility as human beings to protect" the people.
Singh said he had conveyed to Karzai India’s "abiding commitment" to Afghanistan’s efforts to build a stable, pluralistic and prosperous society.
"Such an ambition is not only in keeping with our age-old association with Afghanistan but is necessary for regional peace and stability," the Prime Minister underlined.
As a demonstration of India’s commitment towards Afghanistan, Singh announced a new assistance of 450 million dollars (approx Rs 2,000 crore) to meet the requirement of ongoing and forthcoming projects.
The fresh amount will be in addition to 750 million dollars already committed by India in Afghanistan to implement projects in various sectors including infrastructure development, education, healthcare and social development.
Singh said the crucial Zaranj-Delaram highway, being constructed by India in western Afghanistan as a "symbol of cooperation", has been completed and would be handed over soon to the Afghan government.
India lost a number of its workers and other personnel in terror attacks on the road construction project over the last three years but the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) continued work unfazed and completed it.
Observing that the road project had brought the people of India and Afghanistan closer, the Prime Minister said New Delhi’s contribution is part of a larger international effort to forge pluralistic and democratic society in the war-torn country.
Singh also offered to host a meeting of Joint Coordination and Monitoring Bureau, which overseas and harmonises activities of different countries in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan.
Expressing gratitude to India for its assistance, including the new announcement of USD 450 million, Karzai said India and Afghanistan share interest in peace and stability of the two countries as well as region and world at large.
He said "all allies" should recognise the "seriousness" and "brutal nature of militant radicalism" which is targeting women, children and others wherever they can.
Pointing out that terrorism affects his country and India as also the international community, he said, "Afghanistan would stand resolutely with India in fighting terrorism.
Afghanistan stands resolutely with our allies in the conduct of war against terrorism."
He said India, like Afghanistan, has suffered "immensely" and stressed the need for "defeating terrorism and eliminating the menace completely".
Describing India as a valuable ally and friend which is contributing a great deal in various sectors of his country, the Afghan President said the two countries will continue the journey of democracy and pluralism.
Singh showered praise on Karzai for his "sagacious" leadership to Afghanistan in the "difficult and challenging times" and wished him well in the "testing times" for better future.
Karzai met Singh a day after his discussions with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during which the Kabul incident was discussed.
Afghanistan and India have held Pakistan’s ISI responsible for the attack and Gilani had told Singh that he would investigate it and discuss it with Karzai.
Statements to the Press by Prime Minister of India and President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi on August 04, 2008
Prime Minsiter of India(Dr. Manmohan Singh): "I am delighted to welcome His Excellency President Hamid Karzai to India. The President’s visit is a reflection of the close and friendly ties that exist between India and Afghanistan.
President Karzai’s visit takes place at a critical juncture for India, Afghanistan, and our region. Our discussions today were held against the backdrop of the serious threat posed by terrorism to the security and stability of Afghanistan, India and the region. As the attack on our embassy in Kabul on July 7 has tragically shown, terrorism has no barriers, and is not bound by any restraints. It was an attack on the friendship between India and Afghanistan.
We have agreed that we will not allow terrorism to stand in our way. We will fight it unitedly and with full determination. I conveyed our deep condolences on the loss of so many innocent Afghan lives in the attack on July 7, and re-affirmed to President Karzai India’s abiding commitment to Afghanistan’s efforts to build a democratic, pluralistic and stable polity. Such a vision is not only in keeping with our age-old association with Afghanistan, but is necessary for regional peace and stability.
I conveyed to the President that we will fulfill all our commitments to Afghanistan. For this purpose, we will allocate an additional amount of 450 million US dollars over and above the existing 750 million US dollars to meet the requirements of our ongoing and forthcoming projects.
I also informed the President that one of our important infrastructure projects in Western Afghanistan – the road from Zaranj to Delaram – is now complete. We will hand this over shortly to the Government of Afghanistan. The road is a symbol of our cooperation with Afghanistan, and a tribute to the precious Indian and Afghan lives that were lost in making this project a reality. The road has brought our two peoples closer together.
India’s contribution in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan is part of a larger international effort to help the Afghan people in forging a pluralistic and democracy society. India will be happy to host a meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Bureau, the body which oversees and harmonizes the activities of different countries in the reconstruction process in Afghanistan.
In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to the sagacity and wise leadership of President Karzai as he leads Afghanistan through a difficult and challenging period. He represents the new face of Afghan nationalism, which draws strength from the diversity and pluralism of Afghan society. He has always stood for India-Afghan friendship. We wish President Karzai well in his noble endeavours, and all success in guiding Afghanistan through these testing times to a better future."
President of Afghanistan (Mr. Hamid Karzai): "Bismillah-e-Rahman-e-Rahim! Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister. It is a great honour and privilege for me and my delegation to be once again in India, a country of deep history, and values, and humanity.
Mr. Prime Minister, I convey my condolences and deep sadness over the tragic loss of life yesterday at Bilaspur’s incident. Mr. Prime Minister, also please accept my condolences once again on the tragic incident of the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, and the bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
Mr. Prime Minister, Afghanistan and India indeed share in common the interests of peace and stability in the two countries, in the region, and in the larger world. And we know that together India and Afghanistan are facing the challenges of terrorism, of cold-blooded, brutal murderous activity in our two countries. And we recognize that the two countries and the world at large have no option but to be united in fighting the menace of terrorism as it affects us and as it affects the international community. I would call upon all our allies to recognize the seriousness and the brutal nature of militant radicalism as it attacks innocent lives, women, children, elderly alike wherever they can manage to attack them.
Mr. Prime Minister, Afghanistan will stand resolutely with our friends in India in fighting the menace of terrorism; Afghanistan stands resolutely with our allies in the conduct of war against terrorism. As India has suffered immensely from this menace, Afghanistan has too. Therefore, Mr. Prime Minister, it is a moral responsibility for us – not a political activity, I would like to underline, it is a moral responsibility for us – as human beings to protect the lives of our women and children, and to prevent the loss of life caused by terrorism by defeating terrorism and by eliminating it completely, and thereby bringing security to our peoples and the world at large.
Mr. Prime Minister, Afghanistan is very grateful to India’s assistance all along. Historically we have been friends; and India has proven in particular to be a very valued ally and at the forefront of its assistance to Afghanistan in Afghanistan’s effort in rebuilding itself. India has been among the best contributors of assistance to the rebuilding of Afghanistan. You have provided us help in education in a significantly important way. A thousand scholarships a year for five years; you have been building transmission lines for us; constructing dams for us; building new roads for us; and helping in all manners where India could. On behalf of the Afghan people, Mr. Prime Minister, please convey our regards and thanks to the people of India.
Mr. Prime Minister, I am grateful for the new announcement that you have made of 450 million dollars of fresh assistance to Afghanistan. Afghanistan will value this and I am sure it will be spent correctly for the betterment of the lives of the Afghan people.
I bring you once again greetings from the Afghan people and gratitude from the Afghan people. And I assure you that Afghanistan will be a steadfast ally in the war against terrorism and Afghanistan will remember and cherish the memory of India’s assistance to the rebuilding of Afghanistan at an extremely critical juncture of our history.
Of course, I must re-emphasize, as you did, that both of us will continue the journey of democracy and pluralism, values that our nations definitely enjoy and will protect.
Thank you very much."