Why Afghanistan election matters to India?

WION
Delhi, India Published: Oct 19, 2018, 11.23 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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In July this year, the US defence ministry told its legislature that India is Afghanistan's "most reliable regional partner". Undeniably, Afghanistan is a crucial ally for India.

Ties between India and Afghanistan have traditionally been strong and friendly. Another important factor is Pakistan. As both Pakistan and Afghanistan are geo-politically and geo-strategically interlocked, any development in Kabul directly affects Islamabad.

India and Afghanistan share deep cultural and economic ties. The bilateral trade stood at 590 million dollars in 2016-17. India exports goods worth 377 million dollars to Afghanistan, and imports goods worth 212 million dollars.

In the last 16 years, India’s projects in Afghanistan have crossed two billion dollars.

India has built more than 200 public and private schools in Afghanistan. It sponsors over 1,000 scholarships and hosts over 16,000 Afghan students in India annually.

Former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is an alumnus of Himachal Pradesh University.

In 2017, both countries agreed to kickstart an ambitious ‘new development partnership’. India agreed to take up 116 high-impact development projects for 31 Afghan provinces.

Moreover, India provides significant training opportunities for Afghan officials, approximately 130 Afghans travel to India to attend various programmes each year. India has also given four military helicopters to Afghanistan.

But things have not been as rosy as they are now. The relationship suffered a jolt in 1979 at the height of the Cold War. That was when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

Also read: Afghans gear to vote despite ongoing crisis in as many as 20 out of 34 provinces

The United States and its allies, including Pakistan, fought a proxy war, supporting Afghan rebels against the Soviet-backed Afghan government.

India chose to stick to its non-alignment policy and stayed out of it but recognised the Afghan government.

The war led to the creation of the Taliban terrorist group and India became one of its fierce opponents.

New Delhi accepted thousands of Afghan refugees escaping Taliban atrocities, provided over 750 million dollars in humanitarian and economic aid, and eventually became one of Afghanistan's biggest trading partners.

In 2005, India proposed Afghanistan's membership in the south Asian association for regional cooperation or SAARC.

Culturally too, India and Afghanistan are closely knit. While Afghanistan is known to love Bollywood, the gentlemen's game of cricket is doing well in the country.

Afghanistan's cricket captain Rashid Khan is one of the favourites in the Indian Premier League.

Afghanistan even played its first-ever international test match against India, in India, in June this year.

The world is aware of the deep ties between India and Afghanistan.

In July this year, the US defence ministry told its legislature that India is Afghanistan's "most reliable regional partner". Undeniably, Afghanistan is a crucial ally for India.
 

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