Afghan-India Vision for a Shared Future

Author: H.E Mr. Tahir Qadiry, Chargé d’ Affaires of Afghanistan to India

“The bilateral ties between the two nations resemble a song Sher Khan, an Afghan character played in “Zanjeer” movie “Yaari hai iman mera, Yaar meri Zindagi” (Friendship is my faith, the friend is my life”. This is the creed of Afghans and Indians”

Let me start with my favourite quote from a good friend Avinash Paliwal “Imagining India without Afghanistan and Afghanistan without India is impossible”.  No matter who has been at the helm of affairs in Kabul or Delhi, the two have enjoyed a very good relationship for the best part of history. Ties between the two nations since 2001 experienced an upward trajectory, India was the first country Afghanistan signed the strategic partnership agreement with in 2011. The SPA is a blueprint for our cooperation, which envisions a wide range of collaborations. From defense to development, building human resources, technology, people to people contact, sport and so forth.

Honourable Prime Minister Modi put the relationship beautifully in his speech delivering in Afghan Parliament (gifted by India as abode of democracy) in Dec, 2015, said: “In the timeless Buddhist symbols of Aynak and Bamiyan and in the majestic monuments of Delhi, in our culture and art, in language and literature, food and festivals, we see the imprint of our timeless relations.” apart from history and culture, common concerns and converging interest in terms of regional economic integration and connectivity for economic prosperity and development  as a shared vision have been the driver of our partnership.

This affection gets echoed in HE President Ghani’s perspective of the two country’s bilateral ties and people-to-people contact where he says “India and Afghanistan are bound by a million ties through millennium”

Strategic Partnership  

Terrorism and extremism which have encumbered the regional connectivity and trade and economic activities as well as posing a threat to our shared democratic values, are common concerns that the two allies are fighting together. As such, we have an entrenched interest in peace and stability of the region.

Cooperation between Afghanistan and India is exemplary in the region, we focus on every opportunity to expand and further diversify our already multifaceted collaboration. in this way, we are creating a shared future. India has generously helped Afghanistan in every field, however to mention the important ones I would say they are building human capacity, infrastructure and bolstering the fledgling democratic institution of Afghanistan.

India since 2005 has been providing a thousand scholarships to Afghan students (as a result some 70,000 have graduated since then and around 17,000 are currently enrolled across India, most of whom are on the ICCR and other government-funded scholarships) allocating 500 of ITEC slots to Afghan government officials to boost their capacities and thousands of Afghan students have chosen India as a prime destination to pursue their higher education on self-finance basis. Tens of thousands of students graduated from Indian educational institutions are now working across the government and non-governmental organizations at different levels including leadership positions to serve the nation.

Similarly, India has undertaken both small-scale developmental projects and major infrastructure projects such as construction of Salma Dam also known as India, Afghanistan Friendship Dam, the building of Afghanistan’s parliament, Zaran-Delaram highway, cricket stadiums and power transmission line, each of which each as a public good immensely benefits the people of Afghanistan.

Regional Connectivity

To promote regional connectivity Afghanistan and India along with Iran jointly invested in the development of Chabahar Port which after being full-fledged operational, as honorable PM Modi said will be a game-changer for the regional trade. HE President Ghani’s vision is to revive Afghanistan traditional place as a roundabout where goods, ideas, and people flow freely, to this end, the Afghanistan government has taken several initiatives like building railways which connect Afghanistan with its neighbors, building Lapis Lazuli road which connects Afghanistan all the way to Europe, CASA1000 and TAPI projects which traverse through Afghanistan are meant for exporting energy from energy-rich Central Asia to energy-hungry South Asia are under construction.

Shared Values

But in my view what is of paramount importance particularly for the young generation, making 70 percent of our population, are our shared democratic values. India has stood by the people of Afghanistan whenever these shared democratic values have been at stake. India’s stance toward the peace process very well reflects this. Since the peace process got momentum both Afghanistan and its all-weather friend, India have stressed the preservation of the hard-gained achievements of the past 19 years. To conclude it in a Bollywood style, the bilateral ties between the two nations resemble a song Sher Khan, an Afghan character played in “Zanjeer” movie “Yaari hai iman mera, Yaar meri Zindagi” (Friendship is my faith, the friend is my life”. This is the creed of Afghans and Indians.

About the author:

The author is the Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to India. He is also a Co-Chairperson of the India-Afghanistan Foundation (IAF). Mr. Qadiry is an internationally recognized award-winning journalist with 18 years of experience across various spheres of management, media, and public policy development. Tahir Qadiry holds a Master’s Degree in Global Governance and International Public Policy from the University of London, UK. He is an incumbent Ph.D. scholar from OP Jindal Global University, India, undertaking a comprehensive research project on scrutinizing Afghanistan’s relations with India in the context of regional powers.


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