No plan to scale down Afghan operations: Rao

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Washington, Mar 16: Amidst specultion that India was planning to scale down operations in Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Tuesday, Mar 16 said that India has no plans on doing so.

“We are not scaling down our operations in Afghanistan, we are taking all necessary security measures to safeguard Indian lives there," she said in response to a question at the Widrow Wilson Centre.

While calling the Feb 26 attack as 'barbaric attack against Indians engaged in humanitarian and development work in Afghanistan', Rao said that it was the work of those who were against the development of Afghanistan.

"International community should understand that such attempts, if unchecked, would only embolden the same forces that held sway in Afghanistan in the 1990s and caused the tragedy of 9/11," she said.

Rao said that there cannot be any distinction between good Taliban and a bad Taliban, adding that it would be disastrous for Afghanistan.

Stating that there could not be any 'no quick solution' to the Af-Pak situation, the Foreign Secretary said that 'it was important for international community, in its own interest, to stay the present course for as long as it was necessary.'

Rao said that India was working on infrastructure creation and capacity building in key developmental sectors with a total investment of USD 1.3 billion across several provinces and in very difficult terrain, at the request of Afghanistan.

"At the London Conference, we have announced new initiatives in agriculture sector and in institutional capacity building. In all these areas we have responded to the felt needs of Afghan people," Rao said.

"We believe it is imperative for the international community, in its new initiatives on security, reintegration, and reconciliation in Afghanistan, to approach these issues carefully -- and with caution.

"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," she said.

"There is every risk, otherwise, that the Taliban could resurrect themselves as they have done in the past even when we think they have been defeated or we are rid of their hardcore elements," the Foreign Secretary said.

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