In what shows India’s constructive role in the conflict-ridden country of Afghanistan, the United States has acknowledged India’s role in the country. Nancy Jackson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Afghanistan Affairs has said, “The United States welcomes India’s substantial investment in and assistance to Afghanistan. And we will continue to support efforts to achieve an honourable and enduring outcome in Afghanistan that preserves our investment in Afghanistan’s future.”
This acknowledgement of India’s constructive role in there actually brings to the fore how India is the only country that has played a positive role in the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. What makes this realisation that much more important is that it is in sharp contrast to President Trump’s earlier remarks mocking India’s development and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, Trump had remarked, “I could give you an example where I get along very well with India and Prime Minister Modi. But he is constantly telling me, he built a library in Afghanistan. Library! That’s like five hours of what we spend (in Afghanistan)”. He went on to say, “And he (Modi) tells me. He is very smart. We are supposed to say, oh thank you for the library. Don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan. But it’s one of those things I don’t like being taken advantage of.”
Now, this course correction on the part of the US shows that India’s role in the country is receiving wider acknowledgement even with the Trump administration. India’s development aid to Afghanistan which exceeds $3 Billion, makes it the biggest South Asian donor to Afghanistan. Ever since the US-led NATO troops took on the extremist Taliban regime and toppled it after the attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001, India has been involved in rebuilding and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, as well as in maintaining peace and security. India’s aid to the war-ravaged nation has figured in terms of infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance, economic development, capacity building and empowering Afghanistan’s security personnel, and enhancing connectivity.
All of India’s developmental projects undertaken in partnership with the Afghan government are spread across each and every of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. India’s developmental efforts in Afghanistan are not reduced to rebuilding and infrastructure development, rather India has focussed upon the all-round growth of there. Its reconstruction efforts and assistance to Afghanistan has taken care of all its requirements and has rendered assistance across all possible areas concerning Afghanistan’s security and development. From the development of economic and social infrastructure, education sector and training of diplomats and security personnel, India has been committed to the cause of comprehensively supporting Afghanistan’s nation-building process.
One of India’s most important contributions to Afghanistan has been the reconstruction of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul costing over $90 Million and under the oversight of the Public Works Department (PWD). India has also gifted four Mi25 attack choppers to help the government counter the Taliban in the country. The sheer amount of infrastructural development that has taken place in Afghanistan has largely been a result of India’s assistance to the conflict-torn country. In 2016, Prime Minister of India inaugurated the Afghan-India Friendship Dam or the Salma Dam in Herat province of Western Afghanistan. The hydroelectric and irrigation dam project shall provide 42 MW of power and irrigate up to 75000 hectares.
In the education sector, India has developed various schools and libraries under Community Development Initiatives. It has also reconstructed an elite high school in Kabul and provides scholarships to study in India to about 1000 afghan students ever year. A cricket stadium in Kandahar costing about $1 Million had also been inaugurated in 2018. When it comes to cricket, it has only been due to India’s support and efforts that the sport had picked up in Afghanistan, with India providing home grounds to Afghan players in India in the cities of Greater Noida and Dehradun. The Afghan government has also received aid in terms of wheat from India. Besides this, it has helped build roads, power transmission lines to empower people and uplift them from the clutches of the extremists’ influence by facilitating livelihood opportunities. India also helps train diplomats and security personnel with capacity building in focus. It has pledged to train security personnel in the country to empower and harden them so that Afghanistan becomes a self-sufficient military power, its internal security situation does not have to remain subject to the presence of foreign troops and it is not left stranded and paralysed with the probable withdrawal of foreign troops in the future.
India enjoys a lot of goodwill in Afghanistan primarily because it is only India which has acted as a truly constructive force in the war-ravaged country. Had it not been for India, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan would have been far more severe than it presently is. When no other country has been able to help Afghanistan in its reconstruction efforts, India has emerged as a truly reliable regional partner for Afghanistan. It also won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that India is the lone rescuer when it comes to the cause of development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. These efforts are now being rightly recognised and applauded, even as it is becoming clearer that India’s constructive role in there is going to be a big factor in fulfilment of Afghanistan’s future developmental goals.