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Religion shouldn’t be used as a political tool: Karzai

KANPUR:  Religion should not be used as a political tool as it causes immense harm, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said, asking Pakistan to turn a new leaf so that there is peace in the region and the countries can progress.

The people of Afghanistan were “misled” in the name of religion, he said while interacting with Indian Institute of Kanpur (IIT)-Kanpur students during the annual technical festival ‘Techkriti’ last evening.

Mr Karzai, who recalled his student days in India, said when he returned to Afghanistan, the environment had considerably deteriorated as “on one hand there was Soviet Union which wanted to impose communist ideology and on the other hand there was Pakistan indulging in religious extremism. Afghanistan was caught in the middle and completely destroyed as a result”.

“There were no universities or schools. Only violence in the name of religion. And post 9/11 attacks in the US, the situation worsened,” he said.

Highlighting the need for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to come together for mutual progress, Mr Karzai said, “I proudly say that I am a Muslim, but religion should be treated just as a religion and not as a political tool as that would cause immense damage.

“People of Pakistan also want peace and that is why Pakistan must take this initiative to come closer to India and Afghanistan. This will not only bring peace and progress to all the three nations but also strengthen economic ties with rest of the central Asia,” he said.

Praising India’s support to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation, Mr Karzai said, “India is our greatest ally.

India has provided scholarship to around 60,000 of our students in last 14 years. They have also helped us in opening various universities, colleges in our country. The bond between us has strengthened with time.”

Mr Karzai said both India and Afghanistan have suffered due to terrorism and have only emerged stronger.—(PTI)

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