WASHINGTON: Investing in Afghanistan's development and rebuilding the infrastructure is the best way to "gain influence" in the country, a top Afghan diplomat has said in an apparent message to neighbouring Pakistan and endorsing India's model of assistance.
"Those who wish to gain influence in Afghanistan, must by now understand that investing in our development and rebuilding our infrastructure, and in contributing to peace and stability can generate enough goodwill in Afghanistan towards them to last a thousand years," Afghan Ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib told a Washington audience.
Regional stability and peace is increasingly every nations need, more than ever before, and that stability begins with Afghanistan, he said in his address to the Hudson Institute – a top American think-tank.
"We have been working with our neighbours to end the distinction between "good" and "bad" terrorists – as if there is such a thing as a good terrorist," Mohib said in an apparent reference to Pakistan's policy of distinction between terrorist groups.
"We have been working with our neighbours to play a positive and constructive role in Afghanistan. The Afghans are a strong, resilient and proud people. A people that despite decades of imposed war, have not been beaten," he said.
In response to a question, later, the Afghan Ambassador said "Pakistan needs to update its policy".
"It may have been sticking in the past. It's 2016 now. Different time and era from the 1970s and perhaps some of the policies are stuck in the era," Mohib said.
Praising 10 recent agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan on the development of the Chabahar port, Mohib said this will create a new transit corridor that for the first time, gives Afghanistan access to a deep water port.
"(It is) Giving us an alternative transit route and increasing Afghanistan's connectivity to the world. This is massively important for our ability to export our goods and import what we need to advance our economic development," he said.
Mohib also mentioned the Afghan-India Friendship Dam which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Herat last week and described it as "a project 40 years in the making that epitomises the deepening relationship between Afghanistan and India".
Afghanistan, he said, has a clear message.
"To the Taliban: Standing against people's demand of peace will take you nowhere, and the only way left for you is to accept and conform to the desires of the Afghan people.
"To the international community: Afghanistan is a reliable partner, and the best way to control terrorism is to put more pressure on those who use terrorism for political gains. And, finally, a clear message to our neighbours: You should work with us and be part of the future we are striving so hard to realise," he added.