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World|opinion & analysis|November 27, 2020 / 11:16 AM
India announces projects worth $80 million for development of Afghanistan

AKIPRESS.COM - Sending a message that it stands by its allies, India on November 24 released new development initiatives for war-torn Afghanistan. The initiatives include construction of a dam and nearly 150 projects which would cost $80 million, NewsBytes reported.

Since 2002, India has committed $3 billion toward rebuilding Afghanistan.

India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar said at Afghanistan 2020 Conference, which was attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, UN, and EU officials,  India sees itself as having a long-term role in Afghanistan's development.

He revealed India and Afghanistan concluded an agreement for the construction of the $250mn Shahtoot dam, that will provide drinking water to 2 million residents.

"I am happy to announce today an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shahtoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city. It builds on the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line of 2009 through which power will be provided to the city," he explained.

"As contiguous neighbors, India and Afghanistan share natural historical relations. Our strategic partnership and long-term commitment to the development of Afghanistan reflects the time-tested partnership," said Jaishankar.

The minister also revealed that a number of projects have already been completed.

These include construction of 218 km road from Delaram to Zaranj, which is on the Iranian border, the Salma dam, seen as the India-Afghanistan friendship dam, and the Afghan Parliament building, which was inaugurated in 2015.

Jaishankar said Chabahar port gives alternative connectivity to land locked Afghanistan which will boost its growth.

India has taken a strong interest in Afghanistan's development after the US-led war ousted the Taliban regime. Jaishankar stressed that the gains of the last two decades must be preserved and minorities should be protected. His statement assumes significance in the backdrop of various attacks on the Sikh community in Afghanistan.

The increasing level of violence in Afghanistan remains a matter of grave concern," he added. "While we support all efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, India calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. We also believe that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled," Jaishankar added.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, speaking during the meeting on Regional Cooperation on Afghanistan, hailed the role of India and Iran for the Chabahar corridor as well as the air corridor and said that the trend towards regionalism is likely to be reinforced with a major shift to the center of gravity of the world economy towards Asia.

The President said, "Asia is in the process of transformation from a conceptual region to a functional region. "Connectivity is the key for understanding the scale, scope and direction of the transformation of a conceptual region into a functional region," he said.

"A sovereign, united, democratic Afghanistan will be an asset to the region and the world as a center of a thriving and tolerant Islamic culture and civilization once again," Ghani added.

While concluding his speech, the President extended gratitude to India and Iran for the Chabahar corridor ias well as the air corridor. In 2018, Iran and India had signed an agreement worth $85 million to develop the Chabahar Port in south-eastern Iran. The Chabahar Port, which provides an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan, is located in the Gulf of Oman.

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