Ties between India and Islamic republic of Afghanistan are getting deeper with booming socio-economic diplomacy between the two countries. India has helped Afghanistan recover from the evils of terrorism and economic hegemony by building the parliament house and Salma India- Afghanistan Friendship Dam which aims to produce 42 MW of electricity in the water scarce region of Afghanistan. At the launch event, PM Modi said India will never forget Afghanistan, it’s natural ally.
Keeping the word, India has shipped the first container of wheat supply to Afghanistan via Iran’s Chabahar Port. The Chabahar Port in Gulf of Persia will be built by India’s assistance to counter China’s investment in Gwadar Port in Baluchistan province. The consignment of 16,318 metric tonnes of wheat in 635 containers were shipped to Chabahar Port from Deendayal Port, Kandla in the state of Gujarat. The shipment was a part of commitment made by Government of India to supply 1.1 million tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on grant basis.
The two Foreign Ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed during the visit of PM Modi to Iran in May 2016. Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months. They also reaffirmed their commitment to continue their cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan and the region.
The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan. It will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region.
External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj reiterated India’s continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership that she had jointly announced with Foreign Minister Rabbani last month during the meeting of India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council. She also renewed commitment to work closely with regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.
India plans to operationalise Chabahar Port by 2018. The port will bring direct connectivity to Afghanistan by ditching Pakistan, a common enemy of India and Afghanistan. Indian Railways is also planning to construct a freight corridor from Chabahar Port to the border city of Zahedan near Afghanistan. With Chabahar Port, India is also hoping to revive its Gas pipeline project via Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Iran and India.
– Chaitanya Kulkarni