Terrorism poses existential threat to Afghanistan: India

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United Nations, March 20: As international forces led by the United States prepare to draw down from Afghanistan, India has warned that Kabul still faces an existential threat from terrorist groups ranging from Al Qaeda to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

"It is particularly worrying that the overall security situation remains volatile in the country amidst the ongoing simultaneous security, political and economic transitions," India's acting permanent UN representative Manjeev Singh Puri said during a Security Council debate Tuesday.

Even after over a decade of NATO led International Security Assistance Force's "presence and concerted efforts of the international community, Afghanistan continues to face an existential threat from terrorism," he said.

"We are yet to isolate and root out the syndicate of terrorism, which includes elements of Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT and other terrorist and extremist groups that operate with impunity from safe havens across Afghanistan's borders," Puri said.

"Indeed, as NATO draws down from Afghanistan claiming 'Mission nearly Accomplished', judging by the latest acts of terrorism and violence, there is no sign a similar 'drawdown' on the part of terrorist outfits across the border," he said.

Cautioning actions in support of the political transition should not undermine Afghan institutions of governance, Puri stressed the need for a credible government after 2014 as well.

"But most of all, we are yet to see any evidence that supports the notion of a dividing line separating Al Qaeda from other terrorist and extremist groups, or indeed, that these groups and those who support them have either had an epiphany or made a strategic reassessment of their objectives," he said.

Puri said it made "little sense to draw lines of distinction that most of these groups or their sponsors are themselves not prepared to do, either in word or deed."

On its part, India remains engaged with like-minded countries having the shared goal of peace, security and development in Afghanistan, he said.

And in pursuit of this, India has held a dialogue with the US and Afghanistan in New Delhi and China and Russia in Moscow last month.

"Afghanistan and India are natural strategic partners by virtue of geography and a common vision of peace and cooperation in the region," Puri said.

"India remains committed to support Afghanistan during the crucial period of transition till end 2014 and thereafter," he said.

IANS

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