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Friday, 05.13.2011, 09:09am (GMT)
May 13, 2011
I am conscious that this is a rare honour given to a foreign leader. I am humbled by this gesture of love and affection for
You, the Honorable Members of the Wolesi Jirga and the Meshrano Jirga, represent the magnificent diversity, hopes and aspirations of this great and ancient land.
I bring to you the greetings and good wishes of the people of
Our ties of history and culture go back many millennia.
The founder of the Mughal Empire Emperor Babar lies interred here in his favourite garden in
In his brilliant reign of five years, Sher Shah Suri built the Grand Trunk Road from
Bacha Khan, who was known as the Frontier Gandhi because of his friendship with Mahatma Gandhi, was laid to rest in Jalalabad according to his wishes.
Our forefathers have bequeathed to us a rich heritage of social, cultural and political ties. These civilisational connections have tied together our traditions and faiths and our terrain and temperament.
As leaders and representatives, we have the sacred duty to strengthen and enrich these bonds forged by our people over centuries.
I have come to
In the ten years since it decided to turn its back on the past and face the future,
Our two countries face similar development challenges.
We fully support the vision of a secure, prosperous and democratic future for
Our experience of policy implementation in
School enrolment in your country has increased from 1 million to 7 million since 2002 and enrolment of girls has doubled over the past four years.
I know that it is your topmost priority to put every child in school and keep him or her there. In
But what we teach our children is equally important. In
I know that
Building infrastructure is another challenge. We have tried to provide such assistance as we could to provide electricity and roads in
I am happy that the transmission line built from Pul-e-Khumri is now bringing a steady supply of electricity to the capital.
I am happy that the sacrifices made in building the Zaranj - Delaram highway have not gone in vain. The population of Zaranj has increased. Trade is thriving and customs revenues have grown.
The people of
We will increase development outlays towards capacity building and skill development. This will include more scholarships for Afghan students for studying in
We propose to upgrade the agricultural department at the
We will significantly enhance our commitment for the Small Development Projects Scheme across provinces to further facilitate development at the grassroots with the involvement of local communities.
We will help in the preservation and revival of
The total outlay on these and other additional initiatives that we will take in consultation with the government of
Our ambitions and aspirations for growth and prosperity cannot be realized unless there is peace and tranquility that will allow our people to live and work in honour and dignity.
I pay tribute to all those innocent men, women and children who have lost their lives in the search for a better tomorrow. The people of
Terrorism and extremism are alien ideas to our people. They bring only death and destruction in their wake. They provide no answers to the problems of poverty, illiteracy, hunger and disease. They have no place in a civilized society. Eventually, our centuries old traditions of peaceful co-existence, of living in peace and harmony with each other and with nature will prevail over these deviant ideologies. We cannot and must not allow the flames of extremism and terrorism to be fanned once again.
Our only interest is to see a stable, peaceful and independent
We hope that
The people of this region have lived together for centuries. This is our region and we have to survive together and flourish together.
While the international community can help, ultimately it is the people of the region who must take charge of their own future.
We have to learn to solve our problems ourselves. This is the lesson of history.
If we are to build a common regional identity, we need to learn more about each other. I have often said that we know more about the countries of the West than we do about each other. That is why it is very important to multiply our people to people contacts.
Yesterday, President Karzai and I have agreed on a Declaration of Strategic Partnership.
We have agreed to reinvigorate our relationship in all sectors on the basis of mutual respect and mutual equality.
This will be a long term partnership. Its main pillars will be greater political interaction, a comprehensive economic partnership, a trade development strategy, a social development strategy, an agricultural outreach strategy, a cultural development strategy, and a civil society strategy. A Partnership Council will be set up under the two Foreign Ministers.
I would especially like to underline the decision to enhance people to people exchanges, including between intellectuals, youth, women and the media.
Parliamentary exchanges are extremely useful and helpful. I would suggest for your consideration the formation of an India-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Forum.
We will revitalize links between our business and trading communities so that
I am happy that the people of
As an abiding friend,
I once again thank you for giving me this great honour of sharing some of my thoughts with you.
I am deeply grateful to President Karzai for his personal friendship, and thank the people and Government of Afghanistan for the warm hospitality extended to me during my stay in this beautiful country.
Long live India-Afghanistan friendship.