New Delhi:  India has its ears to the ground on the developments in Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 drawdown of international forces and is “more than prepared” to face any challenges, said Spain’s Ambassador Gustavo Manuel de Aristegui y San Roman here.

In a talk at the India Habitat Centre here Wednesday evening, Aristegui said in Afghanistan the Afghan troops and forces are readying to take over after the international forces’ drawdown with the Taliban presence looming in the background.

There would, however, be some international experts and some international troops remaining to assist the Afghan forces, he said.

On India  and its role in Afghanistan, the Spanish ambassador said: “I think India has some of the finest officers and armed forces in the world, and an extremely efficient security services, and intelligence services in the world.”

The 2014 drawdown “will be a challenge, but I think India is more than prepared for it,” he said at the talk organised by think tank Society for Policy Studies as part of its Ambassador-Lecture Series.

“I think that India is one of the countries that have one of the best analyses of what is going on in that part of the world, and having the best analyses allows you to anticipate, and successfully face risks that you are going to inevitably face,” he said.

Speaking on the topic ‘The New Geo-political Challenges of the early 21st century’, Aristegui outlined terrorism and fanaticism as among the major challenges in the world.

He said there cannot be any justification for terrorism or the ideology of fanaticism.

“Those that think that terrorism has any kind of justification or that fanatical ideologies are grounded on some kind of oppression, if we think that, then we have already lost the battle of reason.”

Referring to the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, he said it was the portrayal of a new face of terror.

“We have seen the horrible face of a new kind of terrorism in Mumbai, which was not seen before.”

Aristegui said the ten terrorists who on Nov 26, 2008 held India’s commercial capital hostage for three days, were “fanatical terrorists” and the fact that they held ground for over three days showed “they were extremely well trained assassins, they knew exactly what they were doing… That is another kind of terrorism we will have to suffer more and more.”

He said the “fight against terrorism cannot be the fight of a single nation”.

“Spain had to suffer terrorism for over 50 years… Spain has developed channels to cooperate intensively and effectively with Indian authorities and different security services and agencies in the fight against organised crime and terrorism,” he said.

He also outlined manipulation of the financial markets by vested interests as another major challenge for the world. He said there are some elements who influence markets and attack the currencies of some countries to fatten their purses.

According to the envoy, the downturn in the rupee was due to speculation by “ruthless persons”.

“The rupee in two months lost 30 percent of its value – a big part of that financial crisis was fuelled by artificial speculation of some ruthless persons… A lot of people were playing very irresponsible and evil bets against the prosperity and wellbeing of billions of people by prolonging the financial crisis,” he said.

Aristegui said while there is need to regulate the markets, it is also important to prevent speculation and to prosecute such people immediately.

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