India to work on strengthening Afghanistan's economy: M.J. Akbar

Brussels, Oct 5: India has underlined its commitment and desire to work with Afghanistan in maintaining peace, stability and progress in the country and the region.

This message was conveyed by Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar on Tuesday evening at an event ahead of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan entitled "Regional Economic Cooperation -- Regional Integration and Prosperity".


Akbar explained the mutually enriching relations enjoyed by India and Afghanistan and the various initiatives undertaken by New Delhi to further the connectivity and integration between the two countries and the hindrances faced by the two in promoting this objective.

"We have to rescue the future from tragedies of the past and uncertainties of the present. For this to happen, Afghanistan needs augmentation of its capacities, it needs infrastructure and resources and most of all it needs connectivity and access to regional markets. This event on 'Regional Integration and Prosperity', therefore, has a special significance," he said.

He said that India has dedicated its efforts and resources into bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan, with improvements of internal capabilities and provision of year-round regional connectivity.

India has already completed significant development projects including scientific water management through dams and infrastructure projects such as highways, worth over $2 billion and is committed to $1 billion more.

"Afghanistan, historically, has been the wedge between East and West, the passage for seamless travel between India, central Asia, west Asia and regions beyond. The harmonies of culture and trade created shared values and mutual prosperity," he said.

"This harmony of outlook and philosophy led to the unique humanitarian vision of Sufi Islam, which still connects the most revered Sufi shrines at Ajmer in my country with Mazar and Chisht-e-Sharif in Afghanistan and Mashad in Iran," he noted.

Akbar said the Zeranj-Delaram road, with the potential to connect Iran to major cities of Afghanistan through the Afghan ring road was constructed by India.

An exciting and innovative future is taking shape through the recent trilateral India-Iran-Afghanistan agreement in Tehran in May this year, which makes Chabahar a hub for immense economic opportunity.

"These steps reflect India's sharp focus on strengthening Afghanistan's economy with greater vibrancy. Better connectivity is not an option, but an imperative. Those who impede connectivity have retrograde objectives," he stressed.

Meanwhile, 70 countries and 20 international organisations are expected to participate in the pledging conference on Afghanistan here on Wednesday which has been organised by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan.


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