Afghanistan could only be peaceful and progressive if short-sighted belief of competition and strategic depth is replaced by regional cooperation, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said at a conference in Kazakhstan on Friday. Khurshid is in Almaty to attend the ministerial meeting of the Istanbul ‘Heart of Asia’ Process, in which India is heading the combined confidence building measures (CBMs) of trade, commerce and investment opportunities.
The meeting is significant as it takes places just a year before international troops begin withdrawing from Afghanistan, amidst uncertainty about the ability of the Afghan Government to deal with the post-2014 security situation. Clearly taking a dig at Pakistan, Khurshid said India’s leadership in the economic CBM within Istanbul process “is rooted in the belief that Afghanistan will experience lasting peace only if short-sighted perceptions of competition and strategic depth are replaced by collaboration and economic investment in Afghanistan by countries of the region and the rest of the world”. Khurshid also noted that India had a contract for the Hajigak iron ore mines, where it planned to not just extract iron ore, but also to construct Afghanistan’s first steel plants.