In an exclusive interview to Foreign Affairs Editor Geeta Mohan of NewsX, the former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai speaks about the Afghanistan-India relations and how to ‘resolve’ the strained relationship with Pakistan.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
NewsX: Why is it that India is hesitant in helping Afghanistan militarily and should they be a little bolder?
Hamid Karzai: Yes, well India approached the issue with caution, and we understood it. There were considerations of Pakistani sensitivities which we of course disagree with. Afghanistan is a sovereign independent country and has the right to seek help whenever it can. But, India had a consideration which we understood and respected. Also, India had the consideration of the US view on that, but India wanted to help us, and as it was proven later on that India did help Afghanistan; some months ago with military helicopters. And I hope, rather, I’m sure India will do more.
NewsX: The considerations are huge but the fact is that Afghanistan needs it. Is there a need for India to start looking at engaging Afghanistan on the fronts that are bigger concerns for Afghanistan than primarily security?
Hamid Karzai: Yes, Afghanistan’s stability, strength as a nation as a country is a guarantee to a less threatened more stable and more secure India, therefore it is very important for both the countries to have hands joined together and to work together as strategic allies.
NewsX: What do you make of India’s change in strategy — the fact that they have mentioned it; that Pakistan is calling it crossing lines that are not to be crossed?
Hamid Karzai: India and Afghanistan have been reserved on their comments on Pakistan for a very long time. It was the Pakistani speakers and state leaders that kept talking about Afghanistan and also occasionally about India. So, I hope they understand that we live in the same region, that one affects all, and eventually we need to talk about these issues so we can understand we are all on the same platform and we resolve issues together which we have.
NewsX: You met NSA; what are the key takeaways. How do you see the administration working now with Afghanistan?
Hamid Karzai: Working well. India is a strong, fundamental ally of Afghanistan. It’s an old ally and we are strategic partners. And I’m glad to see that India has made her mind more clear on issues in this region. And that will make this region a better place to live in and that’s what we have been seeking. The other day with the NSA we spoke of relations between Afghanistan and India. I thanked him for all that India has done for Afghanistan in development.
NewsX: Politically speaking, does it matter that this government has the numbers in place to make the right decisions at the right time. Would you have wished to work with them as a part of government, rather than the past government, given that they have the numbers and in all probability that they can decide better than the UPA government did?
Hamid Karzai: We have worked happily with all the governments in India and I was happy with my relations with the Congress government, PM Singh, Madam Gandhi and all others. And I have also had few engagements as a president of Afghanistan with PM Modi and President Mukherjee. And as a retired president I have enjoyed a lot more engagements with the government, which is a happy thing for me and I think will continue.
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