ّIndia prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the 1.25 billion people will “always” stand with the neighboring country in ensuring peace and prosperity as he jointly inaugurated through video conferencing the restored Stor Palace in Kabul with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“Afghanistan is a close friend. Our societies and people have had age old ties and links. It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror.
“Let me assure the people of Afghanistan that in your quest to build a prosperous Afghanistan and to bring peace, security and stability to your society, the 1.25 billion people of India will always be on your side,” he said.
Modi, while speaking from his North Block office here, stressed that “whatever may be the odds, India will work with you for a bright future for all Afghans”. “The pledge of our partnership and strength of our friendship with Afghanistan is unwavering. Today’s event is a testimony to the resolve and range of our cooperative endeavors. We want each Afghan to flourish and your society to be benefited from fruits of economic growth,” he said.
he Prime Minister underlined that “in our hearts and minds Indians and Afghans have always been closest of friends.” Modi also thanked the Afghan government for “protecting Indian Embassy and Consulates and ensuring the safety and security of Indian experts working in Afghanistan.”
“The sacrifices made by our Afghan brothers will not be forgotten,” the Prime Minister said. Modi said the Stor palace “brings back to life a valuable landmark of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage.” The palace, located on a hilltop in capital city Kabul, was built by Afghan King Amanullah Khan in the 1920s.
“The Stor palace has been the setting for many momentous historical events. To those who cannot see beyond shadows of violence in Afghanistan, the restored Stor palace is a reminder of the glory of Afghanistan’s rich traditions. “And for our Afghan brothers and sisters, it revives the beauty, the richness and splendor of lost memories of Afghan society,” he said.
He used the occasion to talk again about the India, Afghanistan and Iran transit corridor deal – to develop the Chabahar port – and about the Salma Dam India has built in the Herat province.
“Salma Dam will renew not just the economy and agriculture of Afghanistan’s Herat, but will build a strong pillar of support for Afghan’s overall growth. And the Afghanistan and Iran transit corridor (deal) that we signed this year is another landmark in our partnership,” Modi said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, on his part, said that Kabul is ready to spare no effort in protecting peace, overcoming terror and extremism.
“I express my most sincere appreciation for the government of India and its people,” the Afghan President said.
India has played a significant role in the reconstruction of the palace that’s located on the grounds of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Stor Palace, also known as Stor Manai, was initially built as a one-story pavilion during the reign of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. It was expanded on at least two occasions in the 20th century.