India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his country is “ready to work with the government and the people of Afghanistan to ensure that Afghanistan will never be hostage or become a haven for terrorists.” At a press conference in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mr. Singh called for close cooperation in the war against terror:
“India, Pakistan, Afghanistan in the region need to join hands and work very strongly for the safety and security of people around us.”
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Singh and President Karzai reaffirmed efforts “to support Afghanistan’s steps toward democracy.” Mr. Singh said India supports Afghanistan’s economic and political development:
“This statement reiterates our shared belief that the emergence of a moderate, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in the region as a whole.”
Prime Minister Singh announced a fifty-million dollar aid package for Afghanistan, mostly for development projects. India is the largest regional donor to Afghanistan, providing tens of millions of dollars in aid since the overthrow of the Taleban regime in 2001. India is helping to train Afghan civil servants, diplomats, and police.
Mr. Singh spoke at the unveiling of a foundation stone for a new Afghan parliament building, which India is helping to build. “Representation is the very essence of democracy,” said Mr. Singh, “This edifice, when it is built, will be the heart of democracy in Afghanistan.”
Afghan voters are preparing for parliamentary and provincial council elections in September. They will choose from more than two-thousand-seven-hundred candidates for parliament, including more than five-hundred-eighty women. More than three-thousand candidates, including some two-hundred-eighty women, are running for seats on provincial councils.
President George W. Bush said that building a democratic and prosperous Afghanistan “in the long run is the only way to defeat the terrorists by offering an alternative to their ideology of hatred and fear.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.