ISLAMABAD -- India today extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries display "maturity and self-confidence" to do business with each other as the world was rooting for a change and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.
Speaking at 'Heart of Asia' ministerial conference on Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also asked the international community to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in "any name, form or manifestation".
She said the "heart of Asia" cannot function if arteries are clogged and noted that India's vision for the war-torn country was one of interlinked trade, transit, energy and communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub.
"Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.
"For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan - in the best traditions of good neighbourliness - through more effective transit arrangements," she said.
Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, India's High Commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan and envoy to Afghanistan Amar Sinha, said terrorism in that country has grown in both intensity and scope in the last few months and that India was ready to work with the Afghan government to strengthen its defensive capability.
"Terrorists have made concerted efforts to capture and hold territory, reminding us that they have not changed. We salute the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan people for countering the forces of terrorism and extremism with courage and resilience.
"They need the continued support of the international community to defend Afghanistan's unity and security. For its part, India is ready to work with Afghanistan to strengthen its defensive capability," she said.
Swaraj said it was the collective duty of "all of us to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in any name, form or manifestation.
"We, in Afghanistan's proximity, have a particular responsibility in this regard," she said.
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