As the U.S. prepares to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated clearly that India will continue to engage with Afghanistan for the long term. Upon beginning a two-day visit to Kabul on May 12, 2011, Manmohan Singh announced an additional $500 million in aid to Afghanistan to rebuild the war-torn country's infrastructure and economy.
Addressing a joint press conference in Kabul along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Indian prime minister declared an intention to stay engaged with Afghanistan for the long term. Over the past decade, India has spent $1.5 billion in rebuilding roads, hospitals and electricity networks in Afghanistan.
Singh also spoke at a banquet luncheon hosted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on May 12. In the short speech, he spoke of India's commitment to engage with Afghanistan for the long term. On the second day of his on May 13, the Indian prime minister also addressed the Afghan parliament, stressing that terrorism faced by Afghanistan and India was an "outside phenomenon" – an apparent reference to Pakistan.
Indian PM Singh's Remarks at Banquet
"India is Your Neighbor and Partner in Development; You Can Count On Us As You Build Your Society, Economy and Polity"
"Your Excellency President Hamid Karzai, 'Distinguished Ministers, "Distinguished guests,
"Thank you for your warm words of welcome and most generous hospitality. This is indeed in the best traditions of Afghanistan, and I feel extremely privileged to experience this hospitality first hand today. Thank you, Mr. President, for hosting me and my delegation to this extraordinary banquet.
"I am delighted to be here in Afghanistan. This is an ancient land steeped in history and culture. When I see the love, affection and friendship in the eyes of the many faces around me, I know that I am visiting not just a neighbor but a very special friend. The presence of such a large number of prominent Afghan personalities here is enriching and humbling.
"The bonds between India and Afghanistan have been forged over centuries. They have tied us together in traditions and faiths. They are immortalized in the poetry of Amir Khusro, the shrines of Salim Chisti and Moinuddin Chisti and the grave of Bidel Dehlavi. Trade, people and ideas have flowed between our lands. Afghan fruits and dry fruits are treasured delicacies in India.
"I have come here with a message of solidarity, friendship and goodwill from the people of India to the people of Afghanistan. India is your neighbor and partner in development. You can count on us as you build your society, economy and polity."
"Afghanistan Should Be Allowed to Rebuild Itself, In the Way Its People Want It To; Afghanistan Deserves To Occupy Its Rightful Place In the Global Community"
"Afghanistan has endured great suffering and violence. The time has come to put an end to this violence. Afghanistan should be allowed to rebuild itself, in the way its people want it to. Afghanistan deserves to occupy its rightful place in the global community.
"We wish to see a peaceful, stable, democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan, that is in harmony with the culture, genius and temperament of its people. We strongly support the Afghan people's quest for peace and reconciliation. India supports the unity, integrity and prosperity of Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan has made significant strides under President Karzai. He is a great patriot who has led his country without fear or favor. His friendship towards India has won the hearts and minds of Indians, and made a strong partnership between India and Afghanistan a living reality.
"The journey ahead for both India and Afghanistan to fulfil the aspirations of our peoples is a long one. There will be obstacles, but if we stand together we will achieve our goals. We will prevail, we will win.
"We should have a long term vision of our relations and act accordingly. We should be ambitious in shaping our future ourselves. We should harness the goodwill that exists between our people and encourage much greater exchanges at all levels both within and outside government.
"I once again thank you for such a special welcome. This will remain forever etched in my memory.
"In conclusion, allow me to wish the people of Afghanistan peace, prosperity and happiness."
Indian PM Singh's Remarks at Press Conference
"I Reiterated to President Karzai, India's Firm and Unwavering Commitment to Assisting the Government And the People of Afghanistan..."
"At the outset, I wish to convey my deep personal gratitude to His Excellency President Hamid Karzai for the warm welcome given to me and for the excellent arrangements that have been made for my stay.
"My visit to Afghanistan reflects the commitment of our Government to advance our relations to a new level. President Karzai and I have reviewed the decisions we made during the President's visit to India in February this year. Based on this, we have agreed on a Joint Declaration between our two countries.
"The Declaration envisages regular political consultations, the establishment of a Strategic Economic Partnership, education and human resource capacity building, people to people exchanges, regional economic cooperation and cooperation in the area of security and law enforcement.
"The Strategic Partnership will be implemented under the framework of a Partnership Council which will be headed by the two Foreign Ministers. I reiterated to President Karzai, India's firm and unwavering commitment to assisting the government and the people of Afghanistan in areas which are of priority and concern to them.
"Our development assistance commitment to Afghanistan currently stands at approximately $1.5 billion spread over several sectors, but there are still gaps. We now have a better idea of where we can and should do more.
"We have decided to make a fresh commitment valued at approximately $500 million over the next few years. This will consist of specific projects and schemes and other initiatives that will be developed in consultation with the government of Afghanistan. Broadly, we will increase our focus on the social sector, agriculture, capacity building, access to the Indian market and continue with our infrastructure projects.
"We are happy that a growing number of Afghans are finding it worthwhile to travel to India for different purposes. We will facilitate such exchanges, including among the business and trading community. We want to insure unhindered and across the board interaction among our two societies. This is how it has been throughout our history."
"Afghanistan's Decisions Should Be Made in Afghanistan By Afghans"
"The President shared with me the political processes underway towards reconciliation and plans of the government and people of Afghanistan to assume full ownership of their security and development efforts. India welcomes and supports these efforts. We have experience in the political and security areas which we think is relevant to Afghanistan.
"We agreed that India and Afghanistan face a common threat from the scourge of terrorism. In the interest of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan it is necessary for the countries of the region and beyond to respect Afghanistan's integrity, sovereignty and independence.
"Afghanistan's decisions should be made in Afghanistan by Afghans.
"I have no doubt that good and healthy relations between India and Afghanistan correspond to the basic interests of both our peoples and will enjoy widespread support in both countries. Equally importantly, they contribute to peace and stability in the region and beyond.
"I have invited President Karzai to visit India. We also warmly welcome visits by other high dignitaries of Afghanistan to India, and I will reiterate our invitations to them when I meet them.
"This is a unique moment of transition for Afghanistan. India stands with the people of Afghanistan. We are with Afghanistan for the long term."