India on Tuesday announced a new phase of over 100 high-impact community projects in Afghanistan worth USD 80 million (Rs 592 crore) as the country’s development portfolio in the war-ravaged nation has reached over USD 3 billion (Rs 22,200 crore) so far.
The announcement about the new development package was made by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during his virtual address at a global conference on Afghanistan during which he also called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to stop violence in that country.
“India’s development portfolio in Afghanistan has to-date amounted to over USD 3 billion. The minister highlighted that no part of Afghanistan today is untouched by the 400 plus projects that India has undertaken in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces. More than 65,000 Afghan students have also studied in India,” the MEA said in a release.
In his address, Mr Jaishankar also called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to stop violence in the country, and reiterated that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
“The external affairs minister (EAM) announced at the conference that India had just concluded with Afghanistan an agreement for the construction of the Shatoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city,” the release said.
India had earlier built the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line that provided electricity to Kabul city.
“EAM also announced launch of phase four of the High-Impact Community Development Projects in Afghanistan, which envisages more than 100 projects worth USD 80 million that India would undertake in Afghanistan,” it said.
Mr Jaishankar emphasised India’s long-term commitment to the development of Afghanistan and the benefit of it’s people as a contiguous neighbor and strategic partner.
Mr Jaishankar pointed out that Afghanistan’s growth has been constrained by its landlocked geography and highlighted India’s efforts to provide an alternate connectivity through Chabahar port and a dedicated air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan.
The MEA said India’s humanitarian assistance of 75,000 tonnes of wheat to strengthen food security of Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic has been transported through Chabahar port.
“India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan and believes that the gains of the last two decades must be preserved and the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections must be ensured,” it said.
It said as an important stakeholder, India looks forward to walking hand in hand with the people of Afghanistan and the world community in working towards a peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan.
India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains to Washington’s 18-year war with Taliban in the country.
New Delhi has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.
India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future.