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Karzai seeks foreign investment on India trip


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Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (L) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the signing of agreements in New Delhi on November 12, 2012. — Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: President Hamid Karzai said on Monday that Afghanistan was confident in its future and ripe for foreign investment as he touted for Indian business despite continuing unrest in his war-torn country.

After holding talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, Karzai said international companies should seize the chance to invest in his country ten years after the fall of the Taliban regime.

“Investment opportunities in Afghanistan today are better in a country that is more confident in its future and is willing to receive investment from its friends, particularly India,” he told reporters.

“My visit this time to India is focused particularly in talking to and requesting Indian businesses to come to Afghanistan.”

India has given $2 billion in aid to Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted. It is keen to invest more to tackle chronic instability and prevent the return of hardline rulers after international troops pull out in 2014.

But any Indian activity in Afghanistan triggers sensitivities in neighbouring Pakistan, which fears losing influence in Afghanistan and being encircled.

In a reference to Pakistan-based militants who fuel the Afghan insurgency, Singh said sustained international cooperation “including in combating terrorism emanating from the neighbourhood” would help Afghanistan.

“India remains committed to supporting Afghanistan in its development efforts,” Singh said.

“We have expanded our programmes for capacity-building, institution-building and human resource development in Afghanistan.”

The two leaders signed memorandums of understanding on aid for small development projects, youth affairs and coal mining.

In October last year India and Afghanistan began a “strategic partnership” aimed at deepening security and economic links, with Karzai keen to elevate India's involvement further.

At a weekend meeting with business leaders in Mumbai, he promised a “red carpet” welcome for Indian investment as US-led coalition forces prepare to withdraw.

“Indian businesses need not be shy while thinking about Afghanistan,” he said. “Chinese businesses were there long before you came, five or six years ago.” India has not contributed to the international forces deployed in Afghanistan, but has worked on low-key troop and police training as well as infrastructure development.

Last year a consortium of Indian companies won the right to develop Afghanistan's largest iron ore deposits, underscoring growing ties between the two countries.

The United States was previously wary of India's presence in case it led to a “proxy war” with Pakistan on Afghan territory, though US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta recently encouraged India to play a more active role.

Afghanistan is believed to have mineral reserves worth at least $3 trillion which could generate billions of dollars in tax revenue.

The Indian Express newspaper on Monday called for Premier Singh to provide more logistical support and training to Afghan security forces to protect India's own position.

“Short of sending combat troops into Afghanistan, India must offer all the military assistance it can to beef up Kabul's capacity to defend itself,” it said.

“Further hesitation on Delhi's part can only undermine India's ability to secure its long-term interests... and its reputation as a credible regional power.”

Comments (10) Closed

James Nov 13, 2012 06:25am
Blame thy neighbors for all evil. Pakistan should have sealed the border when USSR came and should not have taken any sides. A culture as crude as Afghanistan's can never be refined.
Mohit Gupta Nov 13, 2012 05:14pm
Let's name any muslim country which don't like india or where india dosen't support them if they are right. people of india always love others and want peace every where, do you know india is the most feverable and friendly counrty in muslim world as well as other part of world. yes people of india love people of afghan so whats worng to do that we love people of pakistan to but some people there have different mind set. please change ? "mind set". come to india and see yourself. we respact all not just ourself, we never say we are the best we are the best.......
Ahmed Sultan (India) Nov 14, 2012 05:53am
Its different. You wont understand.
p r sharna Nov 13, 2012 01:19pm
probably you are forgetting that in international politics there is no permanent friend or foe Self interest drives their steps. in trade and investment there may be a win win situation for both the countries. So it is immaterial if the country is Muslim or non Muslim . Two Muslim countries may be bitter foe, Homogeneity of religion.. .can not guarantee friendship neither between persons nor between the countries.
raika45 Nov 13, 2012 02:03pm
Karzai is living in a dream world. Until and unless he can convince the rest of the world that there will be a stable Afghanistan after 2014 when foreign troops pull out, no one in his right mind will invest money there.. Even now where China and India have signed mining deals, things are in limbo. A nation that has all going for it in terms of mineral and other wealth is held at ransom by no other by crude cultural ideology compounded by the religious factor.2014 is coming and the " vultures await" Humanity and treatment of womenfolk will be the first casualty.Islam as usual will get a bad name.
hassan Nov 13, 2012 05:48am
Well India and a Muslim country can never be a good friends..........Afghan president wasted his time asking Indian PM for investment.
Ayaz Khan Nov 13, 2012 05:44am
Let us move forward and turn S.Asia into a peaceful, progressive region where all are proud and happy about who they are.....
Observer Nov 13, 2012 10:52am
Afghanistan friendlier with India than Pakistan its neighbor. :)
vjjjjjjjjjjj Nov 13, 2012 08:04pm
you are right, he should have come to Pakistan first
umar Nov 13, 2012 09:24am
James have no idea what is he saying.... I think history is going to be corrected now....