Want India To Be On Board Peace Efforts: Former Afghan President Karzai

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Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai says Talibans are also Afghans. (File)

New Delhi:

Amid efforts by the US and Russia to reach out to the Taliban for a reconciliation process in Afghanistan, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said today his country wants India to be on board for all peace efforts and also "do more" on its own.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, Mr Karzai said Pakistan has the "most significant role" to play in bringing peace in Afghanistan.

He said Talibans are also Afghans, "sons of our soil".

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"Eventually some day, I hope some day, sooner, we all will get together as Afghans and take issues in our own hands, and bring our country to peace. For peace to occur in Afghanistan, for peace to come to Afghnaistan, the Talibans are inevitable, as they are Afghans," Mr Karzai said.

He said he was sure there are "great patriotic forces among them, who love Afghanistan and don't want to be dictated by Pakistan," adding, a good, well-thought out peace process will bring the Taliban to expression of their free will.

The former president said India and Afghanistan share an "amazing and romantic relationship" which raises expectations to an "unrealistic level".

"We want India to do a lot more in Afghanistan, do things entirely on its own, detached from all other countries. We have had one of the best relationships, and for that reason, expectations are high. So, we want India to be on board all the peace processes that seek to bring stability, institution-building and development in Afghanistan," he said.

Asked about US President Donald Trump's recent remarks mocking New Delhi's role in Afghanistan, Mr Karzai said it was "hyped" by the media and he did not mean what was being reported.

"What he was alluding to was seeking India's larger role in Afghanistan and support from India for peace and reconstruction, which is exactly what the Afghans want. Of course, he put it in different words," Mr Karzai said.

He said Russia and India historically have been closer to Afghanistan in shaping things in his country.

"I am among the Afghans who very strongly supports Russian role. I hope the US will engage with them and I believe Russians are willing to do that," he said, adding that Russian presence in Afghanistan is what Afghans want and "is good for us".

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