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Karzai puts weight behind Modi’s Balochistan remarks

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Former President Hamid Karzai during his visit to India, lauded the recent statement of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding human rights situation in Balochistan.

He appreciated Moid’s statement on the human rights situation in Balochistan, saying that India had every right to respond to Pakistan’s provocations.

“Pakistani authorities have spoken freely on Afghanistan and India, but this is the first time that the PM of India has spoken about Balochistan,” Karzai said.

“However I don’t think India intends to go to any proxy wars in the region as it has a tradition of peaceful coexistence. The region should not go to proxy wars,” he added.

“In Balochistan there is extreme suffering at the hands of extremists promoted by state structures in Pakistan. Therefore the people’s concerns need to be addressed and aired,” Karzai told The Hindu in an interview, saying that Mr. Modi’s comments should make Pakistan’s government “see the gravity of the situation”.

Karzai also blamed the United States for supporting Pakistan in the past, and claimed that it was the US that had stopped India from providing military assistance and lethal weaponry to Afghanistan during his Presidential tenure that ended in 2014.

Referring to a statement by visiting NATO and US commander General John Nicholson in Delhi last week, who had said that America welcomes Indian support to Afghanistan, Karzai said that the US had shifted its position “late and only lately”.

“It is welcome that the US wishes to allow and encourage India to help Afghanistan militarily, although India should never have waited for anyone’s permission,” Karzai said.

The comments are significant as they come a week ahead of a visit to Delhi by Afghan Army Chief General Qadam Shah Shahim. As The Hindu had reported earlier, sources confirmed that General Shah will bring a “revised wish list” of military hardware Afghanistan wants India to help supply, including requests for more Mi-25 and Mi-35 helicopters.

Mr. Karzai said that India must now take “bold steps” to enhance Afghan defense capabilities.

“India knows the state of the Afghan forces. India is very capable of helping Afghanistan and has the means to supply Afghanistan’s needs: equipment hardware and training,” he said at a roundtable organized by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) ahead of a keynote address on “Regional Power play and the rise of radicalism in Afghanistan” which he will deliver on Saturday.

It is worth mentioning that the remarks from the former Afghan president, who has often called out Pakistan for its support to the Taliban, come a day after Bangladesh Information Minister Hassanul Haq Inu had also backed Modi’s statements.

Speaking to an all-party meeting on Kashmir last week, and in his address on independence day,Mr. Modi had vowed to take up the cause of Baloch people facing repression in Pakistan on the international stage, and said he had received many messages from them.

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