Afghan peace process cannot be Pakistan driven: Krishna

Kabul, January 9 (PTI): In a clear pointer to Pakistan, India on Sunday said that any “external” interference in the transition process of Afghanistan will be detrimental to both its success and the future of the Afghan people. Echoing India’s views, Afghanistan said the peace process cannot succeed without being led by the Afghan people and noted that the process was fully controlled by it.
These views were expressed at a joint press conference here by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Afghan counterpart Zalmay Rasool after their extensive talks on issues like terrorism in the region, security of Indians and various economic projects. Though both leaders refrained from naming Pakistan, the message was clear for Islamabad, which has been pressing for a decisive role in the Afghan transition process. They were asked about international concerns that the transition process might become Pakistan-brokered and not Afghan-driven.
“Any external interference in the reintegration process would be detrimental to its success and for the future of democratic, stable, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan,” Mr. Krishna said. Mr. Rasool said the peace process was from people of Afghanistan and insisted that it cannot succeed without being led by Afghan people. Mr. Krishna, who also called on President Hamid Karzai, is here on a two-day visit to convey India’s concerns over some aspects of the transition process in Afghanistan, including Mr. Karzai’s move to provide representation to the Taliban over which New Delhi has serious reservation. India feels that such a move amounts to giving legitimacy to these elements.
The External Affairs Minister also asserted that despite security concerns, India will continue to provide developmental assistance as long as the Afghan government wants. He also noted that Afghanistan government has assured India of full security. “India is not going to be cowed down by such threats. We will continue to remain in Afghanistan as long as the legitimately elected government of Afghanistan wants us...,” Mr. Krishna said. In February last year, seven Indians were killed in a Taliban suicide attack on foreigners in Kabul, which claimed 16 lives and left 20 people critically injured.
India to hold firm in Afghanistan despite threats
KABUL, January 9 (AFP):  Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna vowed Sunday that security threats would not drive his country out of Afghanistan during a two-day visit to Kabul. Speaking after talks with Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul, Krishna said that threats to Indians working in Afghanistan were “real” but added his country was “not going to be cut down” by them.
Nine Indians died in a Taliban suicide attack on foreigners in the Afghan capital in February last year, while a suicide bomber killed 41 people in an attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008. “The threat to our mission unfortunately is real,” Krishna told a press conference, while adding he was “confident” that the Afghan government could provide the necessary protection. “Let me hasten to add India is not going to be cut down by such threats,” he said. “We will continue to remain in Afghanistan as long as the legitimately elected government of Afghanistan wants us to be here.”
The two sides also discussed “the need to deal firmly with safe havens for terrorist groups that continue to exist outside Afghanistan’s borders,” Krishna said. Both India and Afghanistan have pointed the finger at Pakistan over security threats, suggesting elements within its power structures fund and support extremism within its borders. Analysts say regional arch-rivals India and Pakistan are locked in a struggle for influence in Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan. Krishna is due to meet President Hamid Karzai during the visit, which began Saturday. He announced India would give 1,000 tonnes of wheat to drought-hit Afghanistan. India is believed to give more money to Afghanistan than any other country in the region, through aid and reconstruction programmes.