Afghan envoy slams ‘zero sum mentality’ of some South Asian nations

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Just days after the attack on the Afghanistan parliament, the country’s envoy to India on Thursday hit out at the “zero sum mentality” of some nations that was preventing the South Asian region from progressing, including in terms of connectivity, and urged Saarc to support Kabul in its bid for peace and prosperity.

Ambassador Shaida M. Abdali, addressing a function here, lauded the role of India and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for working towards South Asian integration.

In a tacit reference to Pakistan, Abdali said his country was “still suffering either because of indifference of some nations and others who are stakeholders of what is happening today in Afghanistan”.

The Afghan parliament came under attack by the Taliban on Monday, which was foiled by the security forces. According to reports on Thursday, an officer of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence helped the Taliban carry out the attack.

Abdali said whatever happens in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan eventually affects the rest of the region.

He said his country wants to contribute to the well-being of the region by “bringing down the wall of difference and moving towards partnership for the whole region”.

But he slammed the “status quo” in the region in terms of lack of development and connectivity “due to the zero sum game mindset”, which he said should be changed to a win-win sitation.

Speaking at the launch of the RIS South Asia Development and Cooperation Report 2015, the envoy said the way forward was through “cooperating and cooperating sincerely”, by “walking the talk”.

“The situation in Afghanistan should not be acceptable to anyone in the region,” the envoy said.

He cited two obstacles that were stalling progress — the “lack of political will on the part of some state actors to overcome differences and agree to the interests of the region”, and secondly “the lack of infrastructure and lack of connectivity”.

Abdali said his country was the bridge between South and Central Asia and had a crucial stake in the region’s progress and peace.

He warned against the spillover effects in the region of continuing violence in his country and stressed the importance of peace and prosperity.

He cited two connectivity projects — the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and the Kazakh pipeline projects — both of which continue to be stuck due to violence in Afghanistan.

“There is need for connectivity in the region, and that will come with peace and stability in Afghanistan. We hope this recognition is translated into practice by those who talk but lack in action,” he said, in another reference to Pakistan which says it was for peace in the neighbouring country but is accused of harbouring the Taliban in its border areas.

Pakistan has been stalling connectivity projects, including the Motor Vehicle Agreement, among the South Asian countries.

He applauded India’s role as a leading Saarc member to see that South Asia was united and fully integrated.

He also praised Modi’s initiative in bringing the South Asian leaders together, which he said was an “important start”.

“We can’t clap with one hand, we must bring everyone together. What PM Modi seeks, Afghanistan also seeks,” he said.

RIS chairperson and former foreign secretary Shyam Saran conveyed the sympathy and condolence of all present over the attack on the Afghan parliament.

“It brings back bitter memories of a similar attack on our parliament not many years ago,” he said referring to the December 13, 2001 attack on India’s parliament by Pakistan-led Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists.

The attack led to the death of nine people, including five policemen, while five terrorists were also killed and also led to escalation of tension between the two neighbours.

 

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