Bishkek: Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Secretary (East) Sanjay Singh Wednesday said that India seeks to strengthen the hands of the Afghan people in bringing peace and prosperity to their country.
Singh noted that India's assistance to Afghanistan has helped build vital civil infrastructure, develop human resources and capacity in areas like education, health, agriculture and rural development.
"The primary objective of India's development partnership, covering the entire territory of Afghanistan and every development sector, is to build indigenous Afghan capacity and institutions," he said.
The MEA Secretary addressing at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of government meeting in Bishkek said, "The situation in Afghanistan poses a major challenge and opportunity for the SCO, which provides a promising alternative regional platform to discuss and reflect upon the changing security situation in Afghanistan."
"At the last SCO Summit at Beijing, SCO members agreed to play a larger role in supporting Afghanistan's efforts to build itself into a stable, independent country on the path of peace and development, free from terrorism and drug trafficking."
He added, "The SCO should grasp the opportunity to work on promoting peace, stability and economic development of Afghanistan and its integration into its neighbouring regions."
The full text of the speech by MEA Secretary (East) Sanjay Singh:
"It is a great honour for me to join you in this beautiful city of Bishkek to represent my Prime Minister and my country at this august gathering of world leaders.
At the outset, let me thank the Government and the friendly people of the Kyrgyz Republic for their gracious hospitality and warm welcome. I bring good wishes from my Prime Minister and the people of India to our friends in the SCO region.
India has been following closely, as an observer, the evolution of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We are impressed that the SCO has emerged as an important regional forum focussing on issues of regional importance that are relevant and contemporary.
The SCO has played a constructive and valuable role in promoting peace and prosperity in our region. It has made significant contributions both to regional economic development and to regional stability.
India proactively participated in various SCO fora since 2005, learning much in the process, as also sharing our experience of development and progress. As an Observer, India has always endeavoured to play a constructive role and stands ready to step up its engagement to contribute more meaningfully to the SCO.
India has long been a victim of terrorism and we are acutely aware of the threat that terrorism poses.
We thus value all the more the steady progress the SCO has made in building counter- terrorism efforts. The Regional Anti Terrorism Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent has contributed richly to this progress.
We look forward to greater engagement with RATS and the SCO member States in coordinating efforts to deal with the threats emanating from terrorism and drug trafficking.
India strongly believes in promoting peace and prosperity in our common Asian region. India's vision for its own growth and development has always been that our prosperity is linked to the prosperity of our neighbouring regions. This is the rationale underlying our efforts to step up economic cooperation activities in all our neighbouring regions, including Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia.
A common vision and approach for rapid economic development of our nations and people should bind us together. The role of the SCO to achieve this objective can be crucial. We need to pool our efforts to surmount the physical barriers posed by high mountain ranges like the Pamirs and the Tien-Shan and create transport networks for the free flow of people, trade and energy through the region.
The improved communication network would help strengthen multilateral cooperation in critical areas like energy, finance, infrastructure and telecommunications and boost trade and investment in the region.
India is already engaged with several SCO member states in areas such as capacity building and human resource development, information technology, pharmaceuticals and health care, small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship development.
We would also like to share our experience in specific areas of economic endeavour such as banking, capital markets and micro-finance.
India articulated its 'Connect-Central Asia' policy in Bishkek this year, to further our vision of a region connected closely by its common aspiration for a better life for its people.
Our leadership has made clear that, India stands ready to play a larger, wider and more active role in the SCO as a full member as and when the members of the SCO decide to take forward the expansion process.
We have friendly ties with all the member states and we wish to bring to the table our technical expertise, markets and financial commitments, all of which equip us to fulfil greater responsibilities in this forum.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I once again thank the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic for the arrangements made in this magnificent setting and the warm hospitality. On behalf of the Government of India, I also wish you all success in organising the SCO Heads of State Summit here next year."