India and Afghanistan

From exit of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, India may soon counter a condition in which it would have no presence in the country. Not even diplomatic presence. This is going to be the reversal of a long friendship. Afghanistan is vital to India’s strategic interest.

In 1947, right after independence, India concluded a Treaty of Friendship with Afghanistan which opened up diplomatic relations. During 1950s and 60s, India strengthen its diplomatic ties with Afghanistan. India’s first and most significant interest is to ensure that Pakistan does not gain anything from Afghanistan. If it happens, it will be disastrous to the regional security of India. Pakistan on the other hand, refuse the transit rights to India over Pakistan to reach Afghan. India has used alternative way from Chahbahar port in Iran to reach landlock Afghanistan.

India has built roads, dams, consulates, electricity transmission lines, schools and hospitals etc. Some of the projects by India in Afghaistan are-
1. Salma Dam: the 42MW dam in Herat province of Afghanistan. The hydropower and irrigation project inaugrated by PM modi in 2016. It is also known as the ‘Afghan-India Friendship Dam’.
2. Zaranj-Delaram Highway: 218 km long highway built by Border Roads Organisation, located close to the border with Iran. This highway is of strategic important to India as it provides an alternate route to Afghanistan via Iran.
3. Afghan Parliament: built in 2015, it was inaugrated by PM Modi in his visit to Afghanistan. Even one block in this building is dedicated to the former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
4. Electricity Infrastructure: some projects by India in Afghan like 220kV DC transmission like in Baghlan province. Also some telecommunications infrastructure is restored by indian contractors and workers.
5. Health: India has reconstructed “Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health in 1985, i.e. a children’s hospital. It has also built some clinics in different provinces of Afghanistan.
6. Other projects: Apart from the above mentioned projects, some other contributions from Indian side like, benches and desks to schools, solar panels in villages, sulabh toilet blocks, transportation buses etc.

Currently both the sides are working together on Shatoot Dam project in Kabul district, with an aim to provide safe drinking water to 2 million people. Some other projects are still going on. India has provided $3 billion estimated assistance to Afghanistan.

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