‘The role that India played should be played by other countries as well—to send help, not send bombs’


Shaida M. Abdali: The constitution has been made by the Afghan people. It's not a government decision. If the Afghan people want their Constitution changed, it's possible, but it cannot be changed on the demand of some individuals. They talk about political rights, they talk about Islamic values to be preserved—all of this is already in the Constitution. This is where I see the link-up point. The differences are not that big—they also talk about human rights, about education, about political rights, but why ask for a new Constitution when the current Constitution has all those elements?

Priyadarshi Siddhanta: The quantum of Afghanistan's mineral reserves is based on an assessment done in the Soviet era. How accurate are they? The Indian consortium which intends to invest around $10 billion in exploring the Hajigak mine in Bamiyan province needs to build a railroad evacuation infrastructure to the Iranian ports of either Bandar Abbas or Chabahar. Will the Americans agree? Do Afghan mining laws need more clarity?

Shaida M. Abdali: We have new figures, not from the Soviet times. We conducted a survey recently with the help of our US friends and the trillion dollars that we are talking about is based on the new figure. About the connectivity, I have already said that Afghanistan's survival is the survival of the region—we're all in the same boat, we will sink together, we will swim together. I think there is realisation in Pakistan as well that we can no longer say no to the use of Pakistan for regional connectivity, for their own sake, if not for others. The connectivity from Bamiyan to Chabahar is a connectivity not only for our minerals, but you have to make the region connected for the businesses to come later. The Iranians are happy about Chabahar because they know this will help them. The region will not be connected unless we change our attitudes to each other. Why do we see some progress economically between India and Pakistan? Because there is a change now. The mining laws had some problems but we have resolved them. This has already gone to the Cabinet, the Cabinet has approved it, and it will now go to Parliament.

... contd.

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