Deputy Chief of Mission M. Ashraf Haidari spoke at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) this past Tuesday, December 11, 2012. Mr. Haidari discussed the topic of “Afghanistan-India Relations: Transition and Prospects for Post-2014 Cooperation,” providing the think-tank’s experts with an overview of the situation in Afghanistan and the country’s relations with neighboring countries.


Mr. Haidari highlighted Afghanistan’s 11-year achievements in the areas of security, governance and rule of law, economic growth, as well as a number of challenges confronting the country. He expressed the gratitude of the Afghan government and people to the international community for their continued support, which he noted was critical to the stabilization and longer-term development of Afghanistan.


In this light, Mr. Haidari discussed the importance of India’s ongoing multifaceted contributions to the process of state-building and reconstruction in the country, on the basis of the Afghanistan-India Strategic Partnership Agreement. He referred to the Joint Statement released at the conclusion of the recent State Visit by President Karzai to India, highlighting the scope of multidimensional cooperation between India and Afghanistan now and beyond 2014.


Mr. Haidari's remarks ended with an hour-long Q&A discussion with the experts, who expressed concern about post-2014 Afghanistan. However, Mr. Haidari noted that there was not much cause for concern, since the allies of Afghanistan in the region and beyond firmly remained committed to the country and to Afghans’ desire for consolidation of their 11-year achievements towards institutionalization of peace, pluralism, and prosperity in their country. This he pointed out would ensure stability in Afghanistan, in turn bolstering regional security, which is necessary for the realization of the vision of all regional economic cooperation organizations, including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

 

 

 

Ambassador Abdali recently wrote to thank Mr. Akshay Kumar, one of Bollywood's well-known stars in Afghanistan, for his compassion to have met with an Afghan victim of acid attack. The Ambassador joined Mr. Kumar in condemning the criminal attack against an innocent girl, in violation of her human rights and Afghanistan's cultural values, which hold women and their rights in high regard. Below is the full text of the thank you letter to Mr. Kumar.


 

December 12, 2012

Mr. Akshay Kumar

Mumbai – India

It has recently come to my attention that you have so compassionately received a visit by an Afghan victim of acid attack, Ms. Sameera, whose one of lifetime dreams was to meet you in person. Once again, I join you in condemning this criminal attack against an innocent girl, in violation of her fundamental human rights and Afghanistan’s cultural values, which hold women and their rights in high regard.

Yesterday, I met with Ms. Sameera and her sister, who shared the sad story of how she and her family members were attacked. This case is under serious investigation and scrutiny of our law enforcement authorities to help ensure that the main perpetrator of the attack, who remains at large, is arrested to face full burden of justice for his inhumane crime.

She also told me, with gratitude, about the heartfelt, generous hospitality that your family and you extended to her during their stay in Mumbai. Her only desire to meet you demonstrates the depth of friendship between our two peoples that dates back centuries into our shared past. She was so happy to meet with other Stars, which you kindly facilitated. As you know better, your compassion to meet with her will go a long way in helping her recover from the trauma she was subjected to.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness towards the victim, and shall pray for the everlasting bond of friendship and partnership between our two nations.

Sincerely,

Shaida M. Abdali

Ambassador

 

 


Prior to the State Visit by President Karzai to India recently, the Embassy hosted a press conference attended by major Delhi-based media outlets on November 5, 2012.

Ambassador Abdali briefed the press on a wide range of issues relating to bilateral relations between Afghanistan and India, the progress the two countries have made under the Strategic Partnership Agreement, as well as the causes and sources of insecurity in Afghanistan, and how best India and Afghanistan should work, in partnership with the international community, to resolve them.

The Ambassador discussed journalists’ questions on the above issues, as well as the main purpose of the State Visit of the President to India, which he noted was to review the status of bilateral relations, in light of the Strategic Partnership Agreement and its many objectives to be implemented now and beyond 2014.

 

Ambassador Abdali recently met with India’s Minister of Culture, Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch, following the State Visit of President Karzai to India last month. The two sides discussed the depth of cultural ties between Afghanistan and India, as well as common historical monuments in the two countries.

Enhancing cultural relations and people to people contacts between India and Afghanistan is one of the key objectives of the Afghanistan-India Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), based on which the Ambassador proposed a few areas for bilateral cooperation, including technical capacity building assistance for Afghanistan’s museum and archive curators, establishment of a Center for Bedel Studies in Kabul, training Afghan singers in classical music, as well as making a documentary on the two countries’ common historical sites.

In line with the objectives of the SPA, Minister Katoch welcomed Ambassador’s suggestions and committed to providing such assistance to further expand cultural relations between Afghanistan and India.

 

 

Ambassador Abdali attended the inauguration of the SAARC Bands Festival on December 6, 2012. Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid opened the Festival, which lasted for three days.

The Bands Festival manifested one of the key objectives of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in promoting people to people contacts. On the three-day Festival, bands of different SAARC countries played and were received well by their large youthful audience, including resident citizens of the countries.

Afghanistan’s band, District Unknown, played as well, demonstrating impressive skills they have acquired under harsh conditions, and without much external help in the country.