New Delhi: - Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai called on Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi last Thursday. The Prime Minister welcomed Mr. Karzai to India, and congratulated him on the peaceful, democratic transfer of power to Afghanistan’s new national unity government led by President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Mr. Karzai conveyed to the Prime Minister the gratitude of the Afghan people and government for India’s enduring friendship and partnership with Afghanistan, as well as for India’s reconstruction and development assistance over the past 13 years. Prime Minister Modi noted that his government was firmly committed to Afghanistan’s long-term stabilization and sustainable development, which Mr. Karzai appreciated and assured the Prime Minister of India’s special place in the Afghan foreign policy.


On Friday, Mr. Karzai gave the inaugural address of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi, which had attracted leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. In his remarks, Mr. Karzai discussed the deep civilizational and cultural ties between Afghanistan and India, which he said had underpinned the two countries’ current friendly relationship and strategic partnership. “To us, India is a friend, a strategic ally, and an anchor of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region,” noted the former President. He welcomed India’s continued, constructive assistance to Afghanistan, as Afghans strive to consolidate their democratic gains of the past 13 years.

Moreover, he noted that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in the best, long-term interest of every country in the region where “our interests have increasingly converged.” However, he highlighted terrorism and its continued utilization as an instrument of policy by certain state actors as a major impediment to the security and development of the whole region. To eliminate this common threat, which had also begun destabilizing Pakistan, Mr. Karzai called on India, China, and Russia to further collaborate with each other, as well as with Afghanistan, to uproot the problem in the region. Each of the three key countries and neighbors of Afghanistan has been a target of terrorists, who continue to be harbored, ideologically brainwashed, trained and equipped in the region. Their defeat requires a proactive, untied response by the three countries, which Mr. Karzai repeatedly emphasized.


In answer to a question on whether Afghanistan was still a victim of a new “Great Game,” Mr. Karzai responded that the whole region was a target of the new “Great Game.” The realization of this should encourage the countries of the region, most “notably India, China and Russia” to cooperate with one another even more closely and proactively to address many issues of their common concern. "Regional leadership and ownership," the former President alluded, remained the key to addressing the traditional, new, and emerging threats confronting Asia. He pointed out the heavy price in blood and treasure the Afghan people had been paying for the past three decades, indeed, largely for conflicts externally imposed on Afghanistan in a polarized world of power politics.


Mr. Karzai wrapped up his week-long, productive visit to India on Sunday and returned home, following a number of interviews with India’s prime-time TV shows and print media.


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