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India must play greater role in Afghan peace process: Karzai

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) India must do as much as possible for the peace process in Afghanistan to be a success, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said here on Thursday.

“India and Afghanistan share an amazing relationship, an almost romantic one,” Karzai said in response to a question during a session at Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship annual geopolitical and geostrategic conference here.

“Most of the Afghan people view India in such good light… We want India to do as much as possible,” he said.

Karzai’s remarks come after US President Donald Trump said earlier this month that India was not doing enough for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

In his first Cabinet meeting, Trump asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security as he defended his move to withdraw troops from that country.

Trump also referred to Modi as an example of how world leaders were talking about their contributions that were nowhere near the billions of dollars the US was spending.

India hit back saying it does not send troops abroad except under specific UN mandate.

Stating that India was the “greatest contributor” to Afghanistan, Karzai said it should play its role in the peace process on its own, detached from other countries.

He said that an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process was one in which the Taliban and other stakeholders seek.

“It means truly the leadership of Afghanistan,” the former President said.

He said till now there had been three peace processes in Afghanistan – first by China, the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan, then by Russia engaging with the Taliban, and now the latest one with Trump appointing Zalmay Khalilzad as his Special Envoy for Afghanistan.

“We have tremendous hope for the peace process (with Khalilzad’s role) to succeed,” Karzai said. “Khalilzad himself is an Afghan and understands us, knows what peace means for us.”

Karzai also said that Pakistan had a very significant role to play in the process, “perhaps second only to the US”.

He said he supported Russia’s participation in the peace process and expressed the hope that the US will understand Moscow’s role.


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