• Afghanistan, U.S. are seeking to bring Taliban back for talks
  • World must stand in support of Afghanistan, Modi says

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Afghanistan will benefit when terrorism is contained and doesn’t dictate the choices its citizens make.

“Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border, when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut and their patrons are no longer in business,” Modi said in Kabul on Friday after inaugurating a new building for the country’s parliament that his government helped fund. “Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan’s future.”

Modi’s visit underscores the more overt role India sees in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s advance is complicating a planned withdrawal of U.S. forces. American, Chinese, Pakistani and Afghan officials will meet in January to discuss a proposed second round of talks with the militant group, Pakistan’s state-run news agency reported Dec. 23.

All nations have publicly called for peace in Afghanistan. India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj this month said India and Pakistan must set aside decades of mistrust to ease travel restrictions so that landlocked-Afghanistan can export goods more easily through the two countries.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in August accused Pakistan of waging an “undeclared war” against his country by hosting Taliban terrorist training camps. Pakistan accuses India of using spies in Afghanistan to help foment insurgency in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan border province.

There is concern in India that an eventual drawdown of U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan will make it more likely that Pakistan-based fighters will turn their weapons on India.

Modi said the world must stand with Afghanistan in support, and underlined the efforts India was making to educate and impart professional skills to the youth of the country.

“Every youth in Afghanistan should see a future in which IT stands for information technology, not international terrorism,” said Modi.

Afghanistan’s intelligence service disrupted a plot for a suicide bomb attack on India’s consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad timed to coincide with Modi’s visit, the Indian Express reported on Dec. 22 citing government officials it didn’t identify. The would-be suicide bomber was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan, according to the report.

The Taliban has been gaining strength even as Afghanistan’s government and U.S. forces aim to bring the group back to peace talks 14 years after an invasion that has killed more than 2,200 American troops and cost taxpayers more than $700 billion.

Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief, will be visiting Kabul on Sunday to meet Afghanistan’s political and military leaders, Asim Bajwa, Pakistan military spokesman, said in a Twitter post Friday.

Modi in a separate Twitter post said that he will stop in Lahore on Friday to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his way back to New Delhi from Kabul. The meeting will take place a fortnight after the two South Asian neighbors agreed to restart peace talks that have stalled since Modi took office.

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