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Hamid Karzai praises PM Modi’s stand on Balochistan

| SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : Aug 20, 2016, 6:29 am IST
Updated : Aug 20, 2016, 6:29 am IST

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day, saying he “welcomes and appreciates” the remarks on the right of the Ba

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Photo: AP)
 Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Photo: AP)

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day, saying he “welcomes and appreciates” the remarks on the right of the Baloch people to enjoy a violence-free life.

He said India “is a very considerate country” and “will not engage in a proxy war”. Mr Karzai also slammed Pakistan, saying “Pakistan is paying a heavy price for what they (Pakistani establishment) have done in support of radicalism”. He also said the “Kashmir Valley is troubled by extremism” and that the Afghans know “where it is coming from”, adding that India is only “protecting its territory and people”.

The former President also exhorted India to take “bold steps to bolster Afghan defence capabilities”, adding that Afghanistan wanted defence equipment from India. He was speaking to a select group of reporters ahead of an event being organised by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in the Capital. The former President has also met India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval during his ongoing visit.

“We in this region have suffered immensely from violence, the promotion of extremism and the violation of rights, especially the right to development. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s (Mr Modi) remarks on allowing the people of Balochistan to enjoy a violence-free life and to aspire for their development and progress is something that we appreciate and welcome,” Mr Karzai said.

In a veiled remark aimed at Islamabad, he further said that Pakistani authorities have been previously “speaking freely on Afghanistan and India” and that this is the first time they (Pakistan) “have heard from an Indian leader”.

Asked about certain evidence reported recently of Pakistan military intelligence involvement with the Afghan Taliban leaders who carry out attacks in Afghanistan, Mr Karzai said there is “naked, blatant evidence” about this. “We see it on the ground. We see how it is done,” he said, adding that he “appealed to brothers in Pakistan” to end this and “expected them to reciprocate”. He also lamented the “use of religion as a tool of foreign policy” in the region.

Making it amply clear on who in Pakistan was the villain of the peace, Mr Karzai said that the Pakistan civilian leadership wanted better relations with India. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, our brother, has all the intentions. We hope this can be extended to the Pakistan military,” he said.

Asked about the Pakistani military strategy of using Afghanistan as strategic depth for any Pakistani conflict against India, Mr Karzai replied that “strategic depth is a redundant concept”. Hinting that Pakistan had previously asked Afghanistan to be less friendly with India, Mr Karzai said, “Afghanistan will not give up its friendship with India”. He said that Afghanistan was prepared to allow friendly strategic depth with Pakistan to the extent that Afghan soil would never be used against Pakistan but made it clear that both Pakistan and Afghanistan should mutually agree to have the full freedom to “choose their friends”.

On the Chabahar agreement that will boost connectivity between Iran, Afghanistan and India, and whether Pakistan was being left out of such agreements, Mr Karzai said that other countries “cannot wait for ever and deprive ourselves of transit facilities”, an indication towards Pakistan’s refusal to agree to crucial transport pacts in the region due to its anti-India stance.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi