NEW DELHI - Backing a regional approach to stabilizing Afghanistan, India has invited over a dozen countries, including Pakistan and China, for a regional investors meet in New Delhi on June 28 to boost international private investment for the reconstruction of that country.
If Pakistan accepts the invitation, it will be the first time it will participate in an India-led initiative on Afghanistan, a country that is often seen as an arena of rivalry between the two neighbors.
The investors meet primarily aims at spurring private sector investment by roping in countries of the region, but India has also invited ministers and officials to the conference.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul is expected to lead his country’s delegation at the conference, in which over 50 Afghan companies will participate.
“Yes, I would like to confirm that all countries which were participants of the Istanbul process are being invited and that includes Pakistan too,” Syed Akbaruddin, the External Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, told reporters.
India has pledged $2 billion for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which has not gone down well with Pakistan, which is prone to see that country as part of its strategic backyard.
India and Pakistan haven’t discussed Afghanistan in their bilateral talks so far, but there is indication that there is a move in that direction.
President Asif Ali Zardari briefly met Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna in Beijing on Thursday on the sidelines of the SCO summit and inquired about India’s activities in Afghanistan. Krishna explained that India was focusing mostly in areas of capacity building, education and health.
The decision to hold a regional conclave is part of India’s emerging regional approach towards stabilizing Afghanistan in the run-up to the phased withdrawal of international troops from that country by 2014.
At the 12th summit of the June 6-7 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Beijing, India backed a bigger role for the SCO in Afghanistan.