Opportunities For India In Afghanistan
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|December 2020
The current discourse on Afghanistan is concentrating on the American military drawdown from there, but the nature of the subsequent polity with the Taliban in a dominant position is the subject of real concern for common Afghans and for India.
Vaishali Basu Sharma*

For New Delhi, which is closely watching the ongoing peace talks, a major concern is that the U.S. military withdrawal may further destabilize Afghanistan. It is assumed that in the framework of US withdrawal the traditional geopolitical rivalries of the region will manifest themselves in the Afghan theatre. While India has always echoed its commitment towards a democratic, secular and economically integrated Afghan state, it has now adopted a cautious optimism about accommodating the Taliban in the Afghan political order.

India’s Position in Afghanistan

A major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, India has until now invested over USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country. At the recent Afghanistan 2020 Conference organized in Geneva from November 23-24, 2020 over Video Teleconferencing Capability, India led by External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar announced major commitments, most significantly a new package of over 100 high-impact community projects worth USD 80 million. Since the fall of the Taliban regime, India has provided more than USD 3 billion in reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan. Major infrastructural projects that India has undertaken in Afghanistan are the construction of its Parliament building, a 218-kilometer road from Delaram to Zaran connecting Afghanistan to Iran, including a 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line. After building the Salma or India–Afghanistan friendship dam in Herat Province, India is set to sign an agreement on the building of the Shatoot Dam that will provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, India sent 75,000 tonnes of wheat, including 20 tonnes of life-saving medicines and other equipment for the people of Afghanistan.

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