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Statement by Shri Salman Khurshid, Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice at the Kabul Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia Countries

June 14, 2012

Excellency, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul,
Excellency, Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mr. Ahmet Davotoglu,
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Mr. Jan Kubis
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • I am indeed very happy to be present at the first Ministerial Meeting of the Istanbul Process in the city of Kabul. I would like to thank the Government of Afghanistan for the warm hospitality extended to our delegation, and to both the Afghan and the Turkish Foreign Ministries for shepherding this important process over the past months. We believe that its movement from Istanbul to Kabul also marks full Afghan ownership of the process. We are pleased to be able to fully share the vision of the Declaration we shall be adopting today.
  • On its own, India shares a privileged, historical and civilizational relationship with Afghanistan. We have, however, always maintained that the economic viability of Afghanistan depends on its fuller integration into its neighbourhood, so that it can regain its historical role of a land-bridge between South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Eurasia. We fully support the efforts for regional confidence-building as a critical component of international efforts to support Afghanistan as it takes forward the task of national reconciliation even while it assumes full responsibility for security.
  • Excellencies, today's meeting and the Declaration we will be adopting takes some modest steps in the direction of regional confidence-building in a region that is afflicted by the phenomenon of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking. We are happy to take the lead in the two CBMs, i.e. "Chambers of Commerce CBM” and "Commercial Opportunities CBM”. We do so while fully cognizant that these CBMs require an atmosphere of security in the country and in the region. It is important to recall that the principal problem in Afghanistan continues to remain the existence of terrorism, drawing upon ideological, financial and logistical support from beyond its borders. This problem, which not only threatens the future of Afghanistan, but also poses a danger to the region and the wider world, can only be addressed if its true nature is acknowledged. We recognize that the solution to this problem cannot be purely military, but also requires political approaches. The Istanbul Process underlines this political effort and seeks to underpin it with economic cooperation.
  • Among the various strands and processes animating the international dialogue on Afghanistan, one crucial missing component has been the role that private and foreign capital and entrepreneurship can play, not only in ensuring the economic future of Afghanistan, but also in countering the current narrative of anxiety of withdrawal and reversing it with a narrative of opportunity and hope. The prospect of economic progress among the region can create a political dynamic that would discourage external interference aimed at destabilising Afghanistan. I am happy that India has been able to propose an important initiative to address this gap, in the form of the Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan being organised in New Delhi on 28 June.
  • The idea for the Investment Summit was first mooted as a means of operationalising one of the economic CBMs of the Istanbul Process, and hence is fully embedded in our deliberations today. However, we also see it as a means to pull together the various parallel strands of dialogue about Afghanistan. By highlighting the opportunities of investing in Afghanistan, and providing foreign investors, from the region and beyond, with a forum to share their risks by venturing together, the 28 June event will, hopefully, lead to greater inflow of foreign capital and technology into this country. We believe there are very productive opportunities in the mining, infrastructure, telecommunications, agro-based and small-scale industries, health, pharmaceuticals, education and information technology sectors of Afghanistan. This, in turn, will make viable many governance and public investment possibilities that need to be funded through official development assistance. Thus, we see the 28th June event as a critical link between today’s meeting and the Tokyo Conference of 8th July. A situation where companies from the region and beyond have invested their resources in Afghanistan is also the best way to ensure that we work together as stakeholders with a vested interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan.
  • I would encourage all participating countries of the Istanbul Process, as well as the Supporting Countries, to ensure active participation of your companies in the Investment Summit in New Delhi. I also hope that today’s meeting will help to carry forward the excellent work done by our co-chairs, over the past six months, under the rubric of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process and be able to meet next with a sense of achievement.

Kabul
June 14, 2012

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