NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the 1.25 billion people will "always" stand with the neighbouring country in ensuring peace and prosperity as he jointly inaugurated through video conferencing the restored Stor Palace in Kabul with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
"Afghanistan is a close friend. Our societies and people have had age old ties and links. It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror.
"Let me assure the people of Afghanistan that in your quest to build a prosperous Afghanistan and to bring peace, security and stability to your society, the 1.25 billion people of India will always be on your side," he said.
Modi, while speaking from his North Block office here, stressed that "whatever may be the odds, India will work with you for a bright future for all Afghans". "The pledge of our partnership and strength of our friendship with Afghanistan is unwavering. Today's event is a testimony to the resolve and range of our cooperative endeavours. We want each Afghan to flourish and your society to be benefited from fruits of economic growth," he said.
On his part, Ghani said the "logic" of peace and benevolence will defeat the logic of terror and violence as he said India and Afghanistan have always been close friends and joint initiatives like these are a fruitful journey of cooperation between the two nations.
The Prime Minister underlined that "in our hearts and minds Indians and Afghans have always been closest of friends." Modi also thanked the Afghan government for "protecting Indian Embassy and Consulates and ensuring the safety and security of Indian experts working in Afghanistan."
"The sacrifices made by our Afghan brothers will not be forgotten," the Prime Minister said. Modi said the Stor palace "brings back to life a valuable landmark of Afghanistan's cultural heritage." The palace, located on a hilltop in capital city Kabul, was built by Afghan King Amanullah Khan in the 1920s.
"The Stor palace has been the setting for many momentous historical events. To those who cannot see beyond shadows of violence in Afghanistan, the restored Stor palace is a reminder of the glory of Afghanistan's rich traditions. "And for our Afghan brothers and sisters, it revives the beauty, the richness and splendor of lost memories of Afghan society," he said.
True to the foundations of Indo-Afghan ties, Modi said, it links the present of the friendship to the historical bonds. "I must commend all the artists, experts and consultants who worked day and night to accomplish this delicate task," he said. Calling Afghanistan a "close friend", the PM said the societies and people of the two nations "have had age-old ties and links."
"It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror," he added. During his speech, the PM talked about the successful "joint initiatives" that both the countries have accomplished in the past like inauguration of the new Parliament complex in that country and the Salma dam in June this year, also called as the Afghanistan-India Friendship dam.
The Salma dam will revive and renew not just the economy and agriculture of the Herat region of Afghanistan. But will also build a strong and lasting pillar of support for Afghanistan's overall growth and development. The historic palace, also known as the Darul Aman palace, has been a witness of decades of conflict in the country.