KABUL: It’s a hymn to democracy and an ode to the timeless India-Afghanistan friendship. A dream that was born more than a decade ago has turned real, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally inaugurating the India-built Afghan Parliament building in Kabul on December 25.
The parliament building, constructed by India at a cost of $90 million, epitomises the aspirations of Afghanistan for a democratic inclusive future and India’s faith in scripting afresh a narrative of opportunity in the violence-beset country.
“I stand here, on behalf of 1.25 billion friends in India, in admiration for your achievements, in gratitude for your friendship and in solidarity for your future,” said Mr Modi in an address to the joint session of Afghan parliament.
“And, today, I am humbled and honoured to join President Ghani and all the Members of the Afghan Parliament to dedicate this new abode of democracy to the Afghan nation.”
“This Parliament Complex is a small tribute to your progress as a nation and a democracy. And, it will stand as an enduring symbol of the ties of emotions and values, of affection and aspirations that bind us in a special relationship.”
In a veiled swipe at Pakistan’s propaganda blitz about Indian consulates being used as listening posts, Mr Modi warned against rivalries and Afghanistan being used as a theatre of completion.
“You have judged us by what you see, not what others tell you, including about the mysterious Indian consulates. You know that India is here to contribute not to compete; to lay the foundations of future, not light the flame of conflict; to rebuild lives, not destroy a nation,” he said.
You know, as we do, that Indians and Afghans have always stood for each other, never against another. You have been at the crossroads of history. And, your history tells us that you will never let yourself become a theatre of competition; or serve the designs of others.”
“We know that Afghanistan’s success will require the cooperation and support of each of its neighbours. And, all of us in the region – India, Pakistan, Iran and others – must unite, in trust and cooperation, behind this common purpose and in recognition of our common destiny.”
Pushing for long-term unstinting international commitment to stabilisation of Afghanistan, Mr Modi called for support without timelines.
“We must support Afghanistan without time lines because the new clouds of extremism and terrorism are rising, even as the old ones continue to darken our skies; and, because Afghans are not only fighting for their future, but are standing up for all of us and a safer world.”
“But, brave and tireless as the Afghans are in defending their nations, Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border; when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut; and, their patrons are no longer in business.”
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