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Peace in Afghanistan a significant goal: Ghani

NEW DELHI: President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said peace was Afghanistan’s significant goal since the shadow of terrorism haunted Afghan children and women.

“Terror must be confronted and must be overcome,” he said while speaking alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the media after a meeting with him here.

The two leaders held a delegation-level meeting that discussed the historic effort to rebuild Afghanistan: “Peace is a significant goal because the shadow of terror haunts our children, women and youth,” the Afghan leader said.

He said his government was determined to changing the regional nature of cooperation. He said terror could not be classified into good or bad and everyone must stand united both regionally- as he emphasised on SAARC- and globally to counter it.

Ghani said Afghanistan’s quest was for democracy and they were inspired by the Indian tradition of democracy as he referred to the effect of India and Indian leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and others while growing up in the 1950s.

He also referred to Nobel laureate and Indian world poet Rabindranath Tagore who wrote the famous book Kabuliwala, a story of affection between an Afghani immigrant dried-fruit seller in Kolkata and a small girl called Mini  who reminds him of his daughter, Amina, left behind in Kabul.

“Afghanistan and India are two countries that are bound by a thousand ties and millions of memories. We are the only countries that need no introduction,” he said.

He said “the ties between Afghanistan and India are engraved in our landscapes, from the haunting, empty frames where the giant Buddhas of Bamyan once stood to the remnants of Hindu temples that stud the Afghan countryside, to Sufi shrines and minarets, forming the cultural heritage of India.”

He said while other countries have to overcome their past to build a future, India and Afghanistan can build a future based on their past. Ghani addressing Indian media said he welcomed the emphasis in bilateral transport agreement which would allow Afghan trucks, goods to India.

On a different note, Ghani expressed sympathies to the people of Nepal where an earthquake killed thousands of people. “I have had the pleasure of visiting Nepal many times, I have walked those mountains,” he said.

Ghani also invited Modi to visit Afghanistan and inaugurate the new Parliament building in Kabul being built by India and also visit the Bamyan Valley.

“I look very much forward to receiving you in Kabul and I hope you will not only come to inaugurate the parliament [building] but also visit the Bamyan Valley and some of our other sites.”

“Yesterday (Monday), I had the pleasure of meeting with people who after 200 years of living here still speak Pashto of absolute pure cadence. That is an indication of the ties that we have had, and the past here is guide to the future,” Ghani said.

Ashraf Ghani, who arrived here on Monday night for a three-day visit, was given a ceremonial welcome on Tuesday morning in the forecourt of Presidential Palace in New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee were present at the ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan where the visiting President inspected a Guard of Honour. (PAN)

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