Afghanistan and India have signed an agreement of strategic partnership. President Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the agreement to deepen political, security and economic relations with our strategic ally, besides finalizing some other deals on mining and energy. President's visit of New Delhi and the strategic agreement was planned after the visit of Prime Minister Singh, and the references of spat and tension between Kabul and Islamabad after the assassination of Ustad Rabbani has nothing to do with it.
Though President Karzai did not criticize Pakistan directly, in the joint press conference with PM Singh he made a clear reference to our neighbor when he said, "Afghanistan recognizes the dangers that this region faces thorough terrorism and radicalism that is being used as an instrument of policy against our citizens". However, there is nothing in the strategic agreement that should worry Pakistan.
The strategic partnership includes different themes including political and security cooperation that includes Indian commitment to train, equip and support the Afghan National Security Forces, which includes the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, other forces and the intelligence agencies.
The political cooperation agreed in the strategic agreement includes support and joint initiatives on international and regional issues, on forums like the UN. The join stance also includes support for reform in the UN Security Council and a permanent seat for India. The strategic partnership further includes strengthening of trade and economic cooperation, capacity building, cultural and social relations.
Indian contribution in the rebuilding and assistance to Afghanistan is more than $2 billion, from roads to power transmission lines and the latest example is new parliament building. India is the most attracted place for Afghan school graduates who pursue higher education and we particularly appreciate the generous Indian scholarship and other educational offers for Afghans.
India is the strategic partner of Afghanistan and a regional power having meaningful contribution in Afghanistan's reconstruction and rebuilding, particularly during the last decade. We believe Indian concerns about the regional security and peace process are legitimate and should be listened to by the international stake holders involved in Afghanistan.
Kabul should make it clear to our neighbors that Afghanistan is not a ground for rivalry and proxy wars. The rivalry-game between India and Pakistan on the issue of "influence" in Afghanistan is purposeless and ridiculous. Indian support to the rebuilding of Afghanistan should not make others concerned and giving legitimate excuse for making allies with Afghan militant groups to maintain the "strategic depth" in Afghanistan.