Kabul, May 12: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today demanded a thorough investigation into the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan for several years, but ruled out a US-type operation by India to eliminate Pak-based terrorists wanted by it.
“One needs to go for a thorough investigation into the presence of Osama bin Laden for such a long time on the soil of Abbottabad,” he said at a joint press conference here with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after their talks.
The killing of bin Laden was a “unique moment” in the history of the region, said the Prime Minister, who arrived here earlier on a two-day visit amidst highest levels of security.
Asked if India would adopt the type of operation that the US carried out to eliminate the al Qaeda chief, in order to get Pak-based terrorists wanted by it, Singh began by saying “these are sensitive issues and we don't discuss strategies on terror in press conferences”.
The Prime Minister concluded his response by stating, “I would like to say India is not not like the United States,” in a clear indication that he did not not favour such an operation.
Referring to the killing of bin Laden, Singh said it has created a new situation and all countries of the region—
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan—would recognise this as a “unique moment” in the history of this region and work unitedly to end the scourge of terrorism.
To the question on US-type operation, he expressed hope that the world community would use its increasing amount of influence to persuade all countries in the region that the future does not belong to having continued recourse to the scourge of terrorism.
“Experience in the past has been rather frustrating and disappointing. One cannot lose hope. Let me say one thing, I would like to say India is not like the United States,” Singh said.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister announced a fresh commitment of USD 500 million to Afghanistan in the next few years for its development.
“This will consist of specific projects and schemes and other initiatives that will be developed in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan.
Singh reiterated India's “firm and unwavering” commitment to assisting Afghanistan in areas which are of priority and concern to them.
“Our development assistance commitment to Afghanistan currently stands at approximately USD 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 US dollars 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,” Singh said.
Broadly, he said, India will increase our focus on the social sector, agriculture, capacity building, access to the Indian market and continue with our infrastructure projects.
To a question on relations between India and Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said as far as Indo-Afghan relations was concerned, it was not directed against any nation.
“We will like to develop good relations with all the countries that includes Pakistan and Afghanistan. Therefore, there is no question of Pakistan feeling that good relations between Afghanistan and India will harm Pakistan,” Singh said.
To a question about the presence of international forces in Afghanistan, he said it was a matter to be decided by the people and Government of Afghanistan. Singh also said the strategic partnership will be implemented under the framework of a Partnership Council which will be headed by the two Foreign Ministers.
The Prime Minister said the joint declaration between the two countries envisages regular political consultations, 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.
Replying to questions, Karzai said that international cooperation on fighting terror in the region would benefit India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries.
“It is high time we recognise that. Terrorism is like a snake which can sneak anywhere,” Karzai said.
He also appreciated India's commitment to Afghanistan in development assistance, saying New Delhi was doing this despite it not traditionally being a big donor country. PTI