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Karzai for a young successor

New Delhi, Nov. 12: Afghan President Hamid Karzai today hoped a younger and more dynamic leader would replace him when he retires in 2014.

Karzai, who is in his mid-fifties, is on a five-day state visit to India, probably his last before he hangs up his boots after having completed two terms as President.

He said radical forces were continuing their atrocities in his country but there were tens and thousands of Afghan students, studying at home or abroad, who would keep fighting these forces of intolerance.

Karzai held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also delivered this year’s Maulana Abul Kalam Azad memorial lecture, organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

He said Azad represented a counter-view to that of radical Islam. He recalled how an elderly Afghan headmaster had visited him with a pro-Hindu request.

Karzai quoted the headmaster as having said “I have nothing to ask for myself but a request to hold Hindus back in Afghanistan” and added: “He was the maulana in the form of an aam aadmi.”

The two sides signed four agreements on development and cooperation. Singh told the joint media conference that India would continue to support Karzai’s efforts to bring normality to Afghanistan.

A joint statement said the two countries had discussed the potential of Iran’s Chahbahar port. India hopes to transport goods to and from Afghanistan through Chahbahar as Pakistan does not allow it road transit to Afghanistan.