The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, paid a two day working visit to India from May 20-22 during the course of which he was conferred an Doctoris Honoris Causa for Letters by the Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, Punjab, on May 20, and met Prime Minister and President separately on May 21. Prime Minister also hosted a dinner for President Karzai and his delegation on May 21. President Karzai also met senior BJP leader, Shri L.K. Advani and a delegation of CEOs from the CII amongst others while in Delhi.
The visit of President Karzai was his third to India in the last three years after Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh’s landmark visit to Afghanistan in May 2011, following visits in October 2011 in which Prime Minister and President Karzai signed the historic Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and India, and his subsequent State Visit to India in November 2012 which reinforced this partnership with a new business dimension. Earlier, in May 2012, the Partnership Council headed by the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and India met in Delhi in May 2012 to review and advance this relationship. This was followed by the Delhi Investment Summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry in June 2012 just before the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan where the international community pledged continued development support for Afghanistan post 2014 under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. The current visit further enhanced the strategic partnership between the two countries which have historic and civilizational ties going back several millennia. As Afghanistan moves towards its critical security, political and economic transitions marked by the drawdown of NATO forces and the Presidential elections in 2014, the strategic partnership between Afghanistan and India can play an important/crucial role in providing security and stability to Afghanistan. India is ready to stand by Afghanistan as close, friendly and historic neighbour through these transitions and play a due and responsible role in this regard.
President Karzai’s visit was also an occasion to review the status of ongoing Indian-assisted development projects in and for Afghanistan. At his address in Lovely Professional University, Punjab, President Karzai paid fulsome tribute to India’s development assistance for Afghanistan and the role that India was playing in educating Afghanistan’s youth in Indian universities. Over the last two weeks, Shri S. Ramadorai, Vice President of Tata Consultancy Services and Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, founder of the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation and Chairman of a Task Force constituted to establish the National Agricultural University of Afghanistan, have visited Kabul separately to explore the prospects of Indian investments in skill-building in Afghanistan and the Afghan economy and help realize the potential of Afghanistan’s agricultural development respectively, areas where Indian industry and expertise can contribute. The progress of work on the Salma Dam and the new Parliament building was also reviewed. It was agreed to expedite and complete the work on the new Parliament building in the first half of the year.
President Karzai left Delhi for Kabul after his working visit in the forenoon of May 22.