In his inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, the former President recalled his visits to Pakistan while serving the nation as the Afghan President, saying “During my presidency, I visited Pakistan more than twenty times, with utmost enthusiasm and sincerity, to address our mutual concerns and to take concrete steps towards improving our political and economic ties.”
However, he said “From the Pakistani perspective, peaceful and friendly relations with Afghanistan were conditioned on the recognition of the Durand line, one of the very negative legacies of the Colonial rule, and the right to influence the nature of our relations with one of our closest and oldest friends.”
He stressed “In the past fifteen years, I have constantly underlined the impossibility of the recognition of the Durand Line by Afghanistan; while expressing Afghan desire for friendly and cooperative relations with Pakistan.”
Karzai recalled the ups and downs with Pakistan during his tenure while noting the great economic rise of Asia led by global giants China and India, as well as the continuing rise of militant extremism with deadly and painful consequences in the region.
He also recalled the historic position of the region which remained as the commercial, intellectual and spiritual hub of the world and noted the existing plethora of initiatives in the form of strategies to revive those routes and networks.
“As the Silk Route once cut across geographical barriers from Europe, India and China, we want Afghanistan to once again become a land-bridge connecting South Asia to Central Asia and the Middle East,” Karzai said.
Karzai further added “In this context and in regards to relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, while there is tremendous goodwill and deeply cordial ties between the people of both countries, the troubled relationship between Afghanistan and the establishment in Pakistan continues to be the most notable impediment to regional connectivity and lasting peace.”
“The nature of relations between some countries in South Asia is a major factor adversely affecting security and prosperity of the entire region. At the heart of this predicament lies the use of militant extremism in pursuit of geostrategic gains,” Karzi added.
According to Karzai, the realization of the vision for Afghanistan and the region is dependent on moving beyond the current atmosphere of mistrust in South Asia, realization of the full potential of Afghanistan’s centrality as a transit hub and as a nexus of regional connectivity, seeking a coordinated approach to connectivity between India and China, and seeking regional solutions to common security challenges of the region. -KP