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India will always stand firmly beside Afghanistan, says President Pranab Mukherjee

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Welcoming President Ashraf Ghani on his first state visit to India as the President of Afghanistan, President Mukherjee conveyed his condolences over the tragic death of 52 persons in a land slide in the Badakhshan Province yesterday. He said India was proud of its close relations with Afghanistan.

“India shares the Afghan President’s goal of building a strong, prosperous and independent Afghanistan. It appreciates the work he is doing and the formation of a national unity government which adds a new dimension to the process of democratic evolution in Afghanistan, ” Mukherjee said.

The President said India supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national reconciliation process within the framework of the Afghan constitution. India-Afghanistan co-operation has neither an expiry date nor a timeline. As a friend and neighbour, India will always stand firmly beside Afghanistan. India considers it a privilege to share its capabilities and experience in nation-building and inclusive development with people of Afghanistan.

Talking about the bilateral trade, the President said, “72 Indian companies have invested around US$ 17 million in Afghanistan from 2003-2013. India will encourage more companies to invest in Afghanistan.” He expressed confidence that Afghan President’s visit will further strengthen the two country’s successful co-operation in all spheres of shared interest.

Responding to President Mukherjee, the Afghan President said it was an honour to be invited to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan and an important recognition granted to the people of Afghanistan.

President Ghani thanked President Mukherjee for his condolences and expressed sympathies for the people of Nepal dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. He conveyed appreciation for India’s leadership in disaster management and called for a regional framework for the purpose. President Ghani said  that Afghanistan hoped  to have a shared destiny and destination with India in Asia.

Later, in his banquet speech, President Mukherjee said, “Although the Afghan President has travelled to India in his previous capacities on a number of occasions, this is a special visit. This time he is visiting India as leader of the National Unity Government in Afghanistan and as President of a nation with whom India has a cherished history of profound cultural, religious and civilisational bonds.

The President said India believes that the enduring trust and mutual understanding between India and Afghanistan goes beyond political and strategic considerations. The two countries’ shared history and geography is a compelling factor in nurturing our close ties. Because of this historical reality, there has been strong and sustained support in India for its engagement with Afghanistan in its post-conflict economic reconstruction effort. India is confident that over the next few years, Afghanistan will see a significant transformation across its sectors and in all areas of its social and economic advancement.

The President said India remains deeply conscious that Afghanistan’s unity, independence, security and stability are critical–not only for itself–but also for India and for peace and progress in entire neighbourhood. To this end, the two country’s strategic partnership looks to strengthen and diversify bilateral engagement in the coming years, by forging a more robust trade and investment relationship between private sectors.

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)