India says looking forward to taking ties with Afghanistan forward under Karzai

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New Delhi, Nov.4 (ANI): The Indian Government on Tuesday said that it looks forward to taking New Delhi's ties with Afghanistan forward under the leadership of re-elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said: "We have noted the announcement by the Afghan Independent Election Commission on November 2, 2009 declaring President Hamid Karzai's re-election as President of Afghanistan."

"We congratulate President Karzai and look forward to partnering Afghanistan as it continues the process of its stabilization, reconstruction and development.

The international community needs to reiterate its long-term commitment to ensuring security and development in Afghanistan, and to stand steadfast against the challenge posed by the Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which threatens the stability of Afghanistan and that of the world as a whole.

India on its part stands fully committed to assisting the Government and people of Afghanistan as they build a pluralistic, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, " it added.

New Delhi's message came even as the United States and its allies are pressing Karzai to agree to a pact that includes an anti-corruption commission, merit-based appointments and gives more authority to local leaders.

The proposed deal could help President Barack Obama make the case for a counter-insurgency strategy that hinges in large part on success winning Afghan public support for Karzai's government as an alternative to the Taliban.

U.S. officials see improved governance as critical to resuscitating the standing of the controversially re-elected president.

Karzai was also being asked to establish an anti-corruption commission that would investigate top officials. There is also a provision that would give greater authority to local and provincial leaders in Afghanistan in choosing and overseeing projects in their areas, autonomy that Karzai has previously balked at.

According to one foreign news agency report, the West was also seeking progress early on in "re-integrating" moderate members of the Taliban, for which the United States has included funding.

"This means articulating a vision or something that will make these insurgents put their arms down. That is something that clearly has to be done," said the senior official.

Another element being discussed is the need for a "sustained economic policy" in Afghanistan that encourages private sector-led growth and steadily increases revenue collection, the official said.

U.S. officials have sought to play down any direct link between the proposed compact with Karzai to fight corruption and Obama's decision-making on troops.

Obama delivered a strong anti-corruption message to Karzai this week, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday that Obama, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul and the State Department were "actively engaged" with Karzai's government about establishing a compact to crack down on corruption. (ANI)

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