Pune, Dec 14: Calling India a "strategic and natural partner", Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai today exhorted Indian industry to invest and benefit from the business opportunities that his country offered. "Without doubt Afghanistan and India are the most natural partners in facilitating flow of trade not only between the two countries but also through to Central and West Asia," he said during an interaction organised by ASSOCHAM, FICCI and CII here.
Emphasising on the abundant mineral and natural resources in Afghanistan, Karzai said his country was among the few with the richest rare earth material, including lithium, gas and oil. India could be the first beneficiary of the business opportunities offered by Afghanistan, which had an estimated 30 trillion dollars worth mineral deposits, he said.
In a candid expression, the Afghanistan president said, "You are slow in taking the opportunities in Afghanistan. I would like to encourage Indian industry not to be so cautious. Just take steps to benefit from what Afghanistan is offering you". Stressing the good infrastructure including roads and highways available in his country, Karzai said, "If other countries come and avail the opportunities in Afghanistan, you will have no room to complain."
Goading the captains of industries further, he said, "If you are waiting for bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the US, it will come eventually," adding that the US was expected to meet a few conditions put by Afghanistan for BSA. Karzai said, "I want TATA to send their Nano to Afghanistan where thousands of young couples are waiting for the car. If they want to buy, they have to see it. TATA can open a showroom."
He said except for TATA buses, the number of Indian- made vehicles on the roads of Afghanistan was very less. Reassuring the Indian industrialists, Karzai said there was no "risk factor" in Afghanistan, where "immense opportunities" waited for them. South Africa had made investment in the telecom sector in Afghanistan, he noted.
Making an earnest appeal to Indian industrialists and businessmen, Karzai said, "Please come to Afghanistan. Governments of Afghanistan and India will help you. There is no risk."