No need for concern, stay the course: Afghanistan to India
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NEW DELHI: Seeking to allay concerns here over its growing ties with Pakistan, a "surprised" Afghanistan today asked India to "stay the course" and to ignore what is happening on the periphery.

The war-torn country praised India for being a strong partner all this while and said the foundation of friendship between the two countries is deep.

Expressing "surprise" over India's concerns, Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan, said, "We expect India to stay the course and be sure that nothing will shake the foundations of good relations and friendly relations of the two countries."

Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani had visited Pakistan and met with the political leadership there and also the military chiefs.

Since then, Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI Director General have made two visits to Afghanistan to meet both the political and military leadership in Kabul, raising eyebrows in India.

Afghanistan's ties with China, Pakistan's "all weather friend", has also increased with Beijing playing an active role in the peace talks with Taliban.

"While I understand the concerns here, I was also surprised that the perception has affected the sentiments here. I have heard there is a sea change (in Afghanistan's stand)," he said addressing group of strategic affairs experts at the Vivekananda International Foundation here.

He said India was pursuing the policy of helping Afghanistan, by assisting Kabul fight the threat of terrorism, radicalisation, to create opportunities for better lives for Afghans, facilitating regional c ..

He said Kabul is also following the same policy. "Continue to do your good work. Don't worry about anything that is happening on the periphery," he said.

Abdullah admitted that with Pakistan, Kabul has serious challenges. He said talks by Afghanistan's new Unity government with Pakistan was to improve relations so that peace prevails in the war-torn country.

He said Pakistan has said that it does not differentiate between good or bad Taliban.

"That is at least a shift of stand. These measures (words) will be tested against the action on the ground," he said.

Published in The Economic Times 14th March 2015

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