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Afghanistan open for Indian investment

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Kabul: Over the last two decades, Indian public and private sector entities had invested around $3billion mainly in the infrastructure sector of the country.

Afghanistan requires Indian investment, a representative of the Islamic Emirate told The Hindu newspaper on Sunday. Islamic Emirate Head of Political Office Suhail Shaheen said that their delegation met with the head of mission of the Indian Embassy in Kabul and invited its teams to help build and sustain infrastructure projects in the country.

“Afghanistan is open for Indian investment including urban infrastructure. This is the message that the Afghan Minister of Urban Development communicated in a recent meeting with the Indian Charge d’Affaires in Kabul,” said Mr. Shaheen informing that the issue investment and various projects was discussed by Taliban’s “Minister of Urban Development” Hamdullah Nomani and the Indian Charge d’Affaires Bharat Kumar, the Hindu newspaper reports.

Several Indian companies were involved in building and maintaining health and electricity infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and these team were evacuated in August 2021. Indian companies had left projects incomplete in view of the deteriorating security situation after the Taliban takeover, but on Sunday, Mr Shaheen said, “They are the projects started by India during the past regime, but left incomplete. India can resume work on them or make investments in new projects.”

It is not like India has completely cut off ties with Afghanistan’s new regime. It has donated consignments of humanitarian assistance to the country including 40,000 metric tonnes of wheat, about 50 tonnes of medical aid consisting of essential lifesaving medicines, anti-TB medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine, essential medical and surgical items and 28 tonnes of other disaster relief material.

In 2011, India signed Strategic Partnership Agreement With Afghanistan to build its infrastructure, education, investment and duty free access for Afghans to the Indian market.

Key projects backed by India in Afghanistan in the past included the 42MW Salma Dam in Herat province and the 218-km Zaranj-Delaram highway built by the Border Roads Organisation. India also built the Afghan Parliament in Kabul. In 2016, president Narendra Modi inaugurated the restored Stor Palace in Kabul, initially built in the late 19th century. India also constructed one of the leading hospitals in Kabul.

Besides, India has built the country’s electricity infrastructure. The notable addition is the 220KV Pul-e-Khumri transmission line from Baghlan province to Kabul. India has also built hospitals and beefed up the country’s transport system.

However there are India’s projects which are currently on halt in Afghanistan like construction of Shatoot Dam in Kabul district, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents. India has also announced 1 million dollar package for the Aga Khan heritage project, the restoration of the Bala Hissar Fort south of Kabul.

India has been critical of the current Afghan interim government, whom it considers close to its regional rival, Pakistan. However, Afghan governing body has hinted that it would like to have good ties with all regional countries this time around.

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