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Want to see end of terror sanctuaries in Pak that target Afghanistan, says Abdullah

Author: Indrani Bagchi, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 29, 2017
URL:    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/want-to-see-end-of-terror-sanctirues-in-pak-that-target-afghanistan-says-abdullah/articleshow/60884308.cms

 "Afghanistan hopes to see an end to sanctuaries for terror groups that are fighting us. That will be a very important marker towards peace," said Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of Afghanistan in an exclusive conversation with TOI.

In New Delhi to open a trade show, Abdullah has been holding talks with Indian mining companies including Tata to explore mining opportunities in Afghanistan. "We are ready to facilitate major Indian companies to be involved in the mining of natural resources, rare earths and precious stones," he said.
The reality of the continuing terror problem in Afghanistan, of course, was brought home when Abdullah had to delay his departure to Delhi after the Taliban shot rockets at the Kabul airport hours after US defence secretary James Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg arrived. Condemning the Kabul rocket attack, MEA spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said it was part of the discussions between India and Afghanistan.

As the new US South Asia policy takes shape, what does Afghanistan want to see? The end of Taliban's Pakistan sanctuaries is on top of the list. "On the economic front, we are looking at building connectivity and business relationships, business deals with others, particularly Indian businesses, e.g. in the mining field."
Addressing the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) later this morning, Abdullah re-emphasised the problem of Pakistan. "We have some serious challenges in our relations with Pakistan. There are (terror) groups which are threatening the security of Afghanistan and based there and continue to be based there...That is a very serious challenge for us. That is a big challenge for the whole region."

Reflecting on how things have changed, he said, "I've been witness to a previous situation when India was building roads but there were concerns expressed about India's presence. Today its a recognition of the role India has played and will continue to play in this region. We welcome the South Asia policy, including the regional aspect of it, for instance, that it is condition-based and not time-based. That in itself is an important shift." Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, is a "passionate supporter of Afghanistan."

Afghanistan and India signed a key agreement this week for India to train Afghan police personnel. India already trains ANSF officers. Afghan businessmen also asked for a special economic zone from the Indian government, Abdullah said.

With Iran and Russia taking a different stand on Taliban, Abdullah said, "Iran is an important player in the region and will continue to be so. But their messages are not as coherent as they used to be. This is due to changed realities from outside Afghanistan ... Iran considers Daesh to be a deadly threat. Daesh in Afghanistan can only take root or expand if there is instability and the main reason for the instability is that the Taliban are fighting."

With Russia, it will be tougher. Putin is sending his special envoy on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabul, to New Delhi in October, as the distance between India, Afghanistan and Russia widens vis a vis the Taliban and Daesh.

Responding to Moscow's recent statements, Abdullah said, "I must emphatically deny the Russian perception that Nato in collusion with the Afghan government is helping Daesh. We are targeting Daesh, and their main commanders have been hit. ... There is another line in the Russian argument that the Taliban are not "international".

If there are groups fighting in Chechnya or Uighurs or in Central Asian countries where they want to take Daesh-like ideologies, they are only able to do so because Taliban are fighting. Taliban are providing that infrastructure for them. That reality should not be ignored." Moscow is yet to be convinced.

Daesh, he said, is not always opposed to the Taliban, "In some areas they have worked out their differences and in some areas they remain opposed to one another. Instability is the main threat. It is because the Taliban are still fighting that other terror groups are finding a toehold in Afghanistan."
 
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