The United States and NATO’s armed forces have left Afghanistan but India cannot do so. Afghanistan is a strategic neighbour and India has made a lot of effort and investments in the country over the last two decades. How will the US-NATO exit impact India’s investment and trade with Afghanistan?
India has invested $3 billion in several infrastructure and trade projects in Afghanistan. It has also undertaken over 400 projects across all 34 Afghanistan provinces.
The trade between the two countries is now estimated at around $1 billion (in FY20), thanks to the duty-free benefit. India exports approximately $900 million worth of goods, mostly pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, computers and related materials, cement, and sugar, to Afghanistan. On the other hand, it imports items, mostly fresh and dried fruits, worth $500 million worth from there.
India provided developmental support to Afghanistan under the shield of US presence after it re-established ties after a five-year break from 1996 to 2001 during Taliban rule.
India committed to assisting in rebuilding Afghanistan after the 2011 strategic partnership agreement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Afghanistan's Parliament building in Kabul in 2015. It was built by India and cost $90 million.
India helped Afghanistan build core infrastructure such as roads, dams, electricity transmission lines and substations. It also built solar panels in remote rural areas and restored telecom networks in Afghanistan.
India also provides Afghanistan technical and technological support and assists in building capacity for infrastructure and institutional projects.
The Afghan-India Friendship Dam project (42 MW Salma Dam project in Herat province) is symbolic of the ties between the two nations. The Zaranj-Delaram highway project (218 km long, $150 mn value) built near the Afghanistan-Iran border by the Border Roads Organisation is another project of strategic significance. It provides access to Iran's Chahabar port.
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Other projects include the restoration of the Stor Palace project along with the Aga Khan Development Network that works in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa. Power infra projects include the 220 kv DC transmission line from Baghlan to the north of Kabul.
India has also committed $1 million for the restoration of the 6th century Bala Hissar Fort by Aga Khan Trust.
India has assisted Afghanistan in building social infrastructures like schools and healthcare facilities. India also started 100 community development projects valued at $80 million.
Several clinics in border areas and hospitals were built and reconstructed by India. Moreover, medical missions from India have helped many disabled and handicapped Afghans. India has also donated 10 ambulances for public hospitals in five cities.
India also built Sulabh toilets in Kabul.
India has so far donated 400 buses (and 200 mini-buses), as well as 105 utility vehicles for municipalities. It also provided 285 military vehicles to the Afghan National Army, as per the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
India had sent 75,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan during the pandemic (through Chabahar port).