Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced 500 scholarships for the children of martyrs of Afghan security forces while addressing a joint session of Afghanistan Parliament in Kabul on Friday.
Modi, who arrived at Kabul airport early in the morning, was received by National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali and Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai.
Soon after landing in Afghanistan he met President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul then inaugurated Afghanistan's Parliament building constructed by India. He later addressed the joint session of Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) and Meshrano Jirga (Upper House).
While addressing the session, Modi expressed gratitude for keeping the inauguration ceremony on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's birthday and naming one of the wings after him.
"We could not have chosen a more special day than the birthday of former PM Vajpayee ji who dreamt of this project with Karzai Saheb. Deeply touched that you have chosen to name one of the wings in this building Atal Block," he told the Parliament, ANI reported.
The prime minister also announced 500 scholarships for children of martyred Afghan security forces. "I announce 500 scholarships for children of the martyrs of Afghan security forces while scheme of 1000 scholarships will continue," he said.
12:25 pm: Today, I announce 500 scholarships for children of the martyrs of Afghan security forces while scheme of 1000 scholarships will continue: PM
12:24 pm: Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan's future or dictate the choices Afghans make. I hope that Pakistan will become a bridge between South Asia & Afghanistan & beyond: PM
12:12 pm: Our partnership helped rural communities get schools, minor irrigation, health centres, welfare for children & opportunities for women
12:11 pm: Together we have built roads that have brought regions closer; power transmission lines & power stations that light up Afghan homes
12:07 pm: This building will stand as enduring symbol of ties of emotions & values, of affection & aspirations that bind us together. In the heart of every Indian and Afghan, there is boundless love for each other: PM
12:04 pm: We could not have chosen a more special day than the birthday of former PM Vajpayee ji who dreamt of this project with Karzai Saheb. Deeply touched that you have chosen to name one of the wings in this building Atal Block: PM
12:02 pm: I am humbled and honoured to join Pres. Ghani and all the MPs to dedicate this new abode of democracy to the Afghan nation.
12:01 pm: I stand here representing my people-in admiration of your achievements, with gratitude for your friendship, in solidarity for the future
12 pm: A country with an abiding faith in tradition of Jirga has chosen democracy, against challenges that would have defeated lesser people. I stand here on behalf of 1.25 billion friends in India: PM
11:59 am: Rumi said "Raise your words, not voice", this is the wisdom of this magnificent land: PM Modi in Afghan Parliament
11:58 am: Speaker of Wolesi Jigra (Lower House of Afghan Parl) Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi welcomes India's gift of new Parliament building & thanks ppl & GoI
PM Narendra Modi addresses the Afghan Parliament. pic.twitter.com/6fedRkpW9J
â€” ANI (@ANI_news) December 25, 2015
(Source: ANI tweets)
The Indian government had in 2007 undertaken the project to rebuild the Parliament in war-torn Afghanistan as a mark of friendship and cooperation. Initially, it was estimated to cost USD 45 million (Rs 296 crore); however, it was later estimated to cost USD 90 million (Rs 710 crore) after it missed the deadline three times.
Modi will also meet former President Hamid Karzai and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani and Modi are expected to issue a joint statement after their meeting, NDTV reported.
He will also hold bilateral talks with the Afghan leaders.
PM Narendra Modi at the Presidential Palace (Kabul, Afghanistan), meets President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani. pic.twitter.com/flpoOzJJfl
â€” ANI (@ANI_news) December 25, 2015
â€” Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) December 25, 2015
Before Kabul, Modi was on a two-day visit to Moscow. The Indian prime minister and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed 16 agreements, including a $6 billion defence deal, and attended the 16th annual India-Russia summit.