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Hope of better ties with Pakistan bordered on naivete, feels Karzai

Hope of better ties with Pakistan bordered on naivete, feels Karzai

New Delhi: Taking a swipe at Pakistan, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai Wednesday said his efforts to settle issues with the neighbouring country had not borne fruit and peace in the region cannot come till terrorism is used as an instrument of policy.

Delivering a lecture organised here by the Delhi Policy Group and India Habitat Centre, Karzai said he had travelled to Pakistan 20 times during 13 years as president with the hope of having close relations.

"I went with tremendous hope bordering on naivete (that) we will settle issues. I specially worked hard when Pakistan began to suffer from terrorism," Karzai said.

He said he told Pakistani leaders that the terrorism affecting his country "was coming from you, is (now) affecting you".

Afghanistan will not allow itself to become a battle ground for any proxy war between India and Pakistan, he added.

Karzai said he also told his friends that Afghanistan will not compromise on the independence of its foreign policy or its sovereignty.

"As my efforts did not bear fruit, (these would) be pursued by new government (in Afghanistan)," he said.

He said the vision that one could have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul had obstacles.

"It will remain a vision as long as terrorism is used as an instrument of policy," Karzai said.

Referring to the suicide bomb blast in Wagah, he said "whoever has to play with snake, the snake has already begun to bite the trainer".

He said once the region was free of terrorism, other things like open boundaries and movement of people will be easier to come.

He also said the US and the NATO troops will not stay in Afghanistan forever and the alternative was cooperation with neighbours and active participation in forums such as the SAARC and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

He also lauded Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi in emphasising the role of SAARC.

Answering queries, Karzai said Afghanistan was committed to close relations with India.

He lauded India's efforts in improving infrastructure in Afghanistan and providing educational support through scholarships.

He also said there would be no reduction in the number of Indian consulates in Afghanistan.

Former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who was in the audience, said a large number of people in Pakistan were coming to the conclusion that if there was peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan will progress.

Karzai said the past three decades were very significant for Afghanistan "in a negative way".

"Before Soviets invaded, Afghanistan was a very peaceful country. With invasion that tradition was broken and Afghanistan became member of a military bloc by imposition," he said.

He said Afghan people began to wage resistance against Soviet invasion which was supported by US.

He said Afghanistan was impacted by two conflicting ideologies.

"Imposition by Soviet Union of communism and imposition by the West and the neighbours of radicalism. The conflict caused Afghan society dearly. When the Soviet (union) left, the West abandoned us to another invasion," Karzai said.

He said the consequences of radicalism and terrorism were felt by the US in the form of attack on the World Trade Center.

"From that point onwards, Afghans developed a new vision to foreign policy. We established democracy," Karzai said.

He said Afghanistan reestablished its connect with India and renewed ties with Iran, China as also with Russia.

The lecture was presided over by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

He termed as "unfortunate" the purported remarks by Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf that Pashtuns could be used as a proxy force against India.

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