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Karzai pleased with bilateral ties

Shyam Bhatia in Oxford | June 07, 2003 17:36 IST

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has praised bilateral relations with New Delhi and said he is pleased with the level of India's economic assistance to Kabul.

Ministerial adviser Mohammad Yahya Maroofi, who is part of the Afghan leader's entourage visiting the United Kingdom, said, "Prime Minister Vajpayee has a standing invitation to visit our country. The invitation has been extended to him on more than one occasion."

In an exclusive tête-à-tête with rediff.com after a keynote lecture in Oxford on Saturday, Karzai said the Taliban had facilitated the takeover of Afghanistan by terrorists masquerading as Islamic fighters.

He appreciated the international community's decision to support the ordinary Afghan's search for a better way of life based on decent values. "India has given us a lot of help," Karzai said over a cup of tea at Oxford's prestigious St Anthony's College.

Flanked by the Warden of St Anthony's, former Uinted Nations under secretary general Sir Marrack Goulding, he said, "They have given us buses and planes, they are helping to build a road from the west of my country to Iran."

The Afghan leader, who has visited India several times since he was sworn in last year, said cross border terrorism had come up in his discussions with Prime Minister Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier in his speech Karzai recalled how previous Pakistani governments chose to support 'religious extremist' parties in Afghanistan, as opposed to moderate ones.

He described Afghanistan's relationship with Pakistan as 'profound' before adding, "Unfortunately, the Pakistan establishment thought that extremist elements in Afghanistan would be better for Pakistan.

"Pakistan saw its safety and security through the promotion of extremism, which we thought was wrong."

Karzai added, "The Afghan people were victims of terrorism. They themselves are moderate and tolerant as is shown by the defeat of the Taliban. To finish terrorism one has to go to the governments who tolerated some of them. We have to look around the systems of the world.

He said the future of Afghanistan lies in institution building and laying down the foundations of a democratic society.

The Afghan leader also flayed Osama bin Laden, saying he was neither a Muslim nor a human being. "Those who kill in the name of Islam are neither Muslims nor justice seekers, they are plain criminals," Karzai added. "If they had values, if they were Muslims, why would they kill a woman north of Kabul, why burn her house, her orchard?

"Islam is about compassion, progress, justice, goodness, kindness, good neighbourly relations. It is not extremism," he said.

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