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Parliament will be the heart of democracy in Afghanistan: PM

August 29, 2005 14:16 IST

"It will be the heart of democracy in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday as former King Zahir Shah laid the foundation stone of the Afghan Parliament.

To resemble the Indian Parliament, the building will be built by India at a cost of 25 million dollars over a four-year period. It will have Upper and Lower Houses on the lines of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

Dr Singh, who witnessed the foundation laying ceremony along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top leaders, stressed that 'democratic institutions in Afghanistan need to be nurtured and nursed'.

He described the occasion, which comes two weeks before the Afghan Parliamentary elections, as marking a new phase in the history of the 'blessed country'.

"This inauguration of work on Afghan Parliament marks the beginning and strengthening of relations between the two countries. It reflects India's commitment towards a democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan," Dr Singh said.

"Democracies thrive on open societies, but democracies, old or young, are threatened today by rise of global terrorism. The open culture of our societies make us more vulnerable," Dr Singh said, adding democracies need to work together to deal with these threats.

He said Afghanistan had a unique position in this regard.

"We are ready to work with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes hostage to terrorism," he said.

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