Karzai suggests "European Model" for peace and development in South Asia
Stating that Asia has a great potential for development and growth, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday suggested the "European Model" to achieve this potential.
Delivering the third RK Mishra Memorial Lecture organised by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a public policy think tank, Karzai unveiled his vision for South Asia, wondering why "we cannot copy the European Model". He noted that Europe had much deeper conflicts in history than that of Asia.
Saying that his vision of South Asia is of "no border or laxed border", Karzai said Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh"s dream of "break fast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and Dinner in Kabul is achievable, perhaps also with breakfast again in Teheran".
Karzai said this region has a strong foundation of cultural togetherness with cultural and literary greats like Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Iqbal, Lata Mangeshkar, Mehndi Hassan, Fatez Ali Khan, Shammi Kapoor and others who were enjoyed throughout the region.
Pointing out that India and China have shown the great potential for growth and development, the Afghan President called for "bold and visionary steps and leadership" to rebuild on this foundation and transform it into a peaceful and prosperous region. In this connection, he underlined the need for removing the "environment of lack of trust" among the nations.
He said he greatly appreciated the efforts made by Indian and Pakistani leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr. Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharief and Gilani.
Karzai said Afghanistan would see that no stone is unturned and extends all its help to bring peace and development in the region.
He said insurgency, extremism and terrorism is affecting India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and "it is a tragic scene and extreme abuse of humanity". Children in Pakistan and Afghanistan talk of suicide bombers, he noted and asked "should we be living in such a tragic situation" where even four-year-old talks of suicide bombs. arzai said the Strategic Partnership Afghanistan has signed with India is not against any country or entity. He said this is to benefit Afghanistan from the strengths of India and help its people for a better way of life by improving skills and to train police, army, doctors, etc.
Responding to a question, Karzai said Pakistan and Afghanistan are twin brothers while India is a great friend. "The agreement with our friend is not against our brother," he said.
He also reaffirmed the Afghanistan Government"s decision of suspending talks with the Taliban as its messengers came as suicide bombers and killed his leaders, President Rabbani and his brother.
In a major shift of his government policy, he announced that the government would intensify talks with Pakistan, which is also facing the same menace of terrorism.
"We are not going to talk directly or indirectly with the Taliban," he said.residing over the event, Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna said India would continue its help to Afghanistan despite attacks by forces inimical to India-Afghanistan friendship.
Krishna said the Partnership signed last night is especially important because Afghanistan is at a crucial phase now with the twin dangers of the withdrawal of NATO forces from the country by 2014 and the need to keep up the pace of socio-economic development.
M. Rasgotra, President of ORF Centre for International Relations, noted that Hamid Karzai"s visit came at the festive time of the victory of right over the wrong and evil, and wished that the Afghan President would succeed in his fight over the devils.
The earlier two R.K. Mishra Lectures were delivered by former Pakistan NSA Mahmud Ali Durrani and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L Peiris.