India and Afghanistan share a mutual suspicion of Pakistan’s role in fomenting recent violence in Afghanistan.
Delhi has made civil reconstruction central in its efforts to prevent the return of Taliban rule and of the use of Afghanistan as a safe haven for anti-India terror groups, and the latest promise of aid will bring the total since 2001 to $2 billion. What was really new during Singhs visit was his public support of the Afghan peace plan for reconciliation with the Taliban. At the official banquet on the evening of his arrival on 12 May 2011, prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said: “We strongly support the Afghan peoples quest for peace and reconciliation.” Addressing parliament the next day, he acknowledged that “Afghanistan has embarked upon a process of “˜national reconciliation and wished the members well in the enterprise.”19
In October 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Kabul and signed a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai. It paves the way for India to train and equip Afghan security forces to fill what the Afghanistan government fears will be critical gaps as NATO troops leave in the years ahead. India and Afghanistan share a mutual suspicion of Pakistans role in fomenting recent violence in Afghanistan. The new partnership comes just two weeks after the assassination of former Afghan president and peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani.
“¦despite being the largest regional donor, India has had its share of challenges while operating in Afghanistan. There have been two suicide bombings of its embassy in Kabul, the first of which killed two senior Indian diplomats, two security personnel and 50 Afghans.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the significant remark that “India will stand by the people of Afghanistan as they prepare to assume the responsibility for their governance and security after the withdrawal of international forces in 2014.”
When the strategic partnership agreement was signed in October 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the significant remark that “India will stand by the people of Afghanistan as they prepare to assume the responsibility for their governance and security after the withdrawal of international forces in 2014.”20
The strategic partnership agreement has three notable provisions that probably set the tone for Prime Minister Singhs statement. First, India will help train Afghan National Security Forces. India will train and mentor Afghan army and police personnel in Afghanistan, and Afghans will attend training academies in India. India will also assist in equipping the Afghan forces. This is very much in line with Indias regional foreign policy objectives and creates the ground for intensification of bilateral relations.
Second, India will furnish Afghanistan with economic aid and assistance. The agreement provides an additional $500 million on top of the $1 billion India has already spent since 2002. In addition, India and Afghanistan will cooperate in the development of mining and energy production. At the end of November came the announcement that President Karzais government had awarded India mining rights for the countrys biggest iron deposit. Three of four blocks at the Hajigak ore deposit were awarded to seven companies that bid with support from the government of India. Afghanistan expects to attract $14.6 billion in foreign investment over 30 years, including $10.7 billion from India. Further, Kabul is soon going to start negotiations with an Indian consortium for investment that includes the building of the nations first steel mill for $7.8 billion, a power plant and facilities for ore extraction and processing,
“¦throughout Afghan history, the ethnic makeup of the society has led the Afghans to cherish their status as Afghans rather than members of the ethnic groupings. The name Ã¢€œAfghanÃ¢€ has become synonymous with a freedom-loving nation that has never accepted foreign rule
And finally, the agreement states that Afghanistan and India will establish a strategic dialogue between their respective national security advisers “to provide a framework for cooperation in the area of national security.” This opens up a new chapter in bilateral relations in that it allows both countries to discuss both strategic regional and global issues””read Pakistan.21
Yet despite being the largest regional donor, India has had its share of challenges while operating in Afghanistan. There have been two suicide bombings of its embassy in Kabul, the first of which killed two senior Indian diplomats, two security personnel and 50 Afghans. Just last month, a terror plot targeting the Indian consulate in Jalalabad was foiled. Since 2001, twenty Indian nationals have been killed. Crucially, no new major construction project has been initiated in the past two to three years. There is no doubt that the drawdown of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces in the absence of sufficiently trained and capable Afghan security forces will adversely impact Indian projects and personnel in Afghanistan. And there are fears that Indias influence could be eroded as President Karzai seeks a peace deal with Taliban insurgents aided by Pakistan.22