India has invested so much in the past two decades in Afghanistan as the Taliban has started capturing territories in Afghanistan and taking over the military. Relation India and other countries developed with Afghanistan in twenty years almost reversing now because of the reentrance of the Taliban. After the 9/11 attack and the entry of USA troops, India tried to develop a healthy relationship with Afghanistan. Another motive was also to control Pakistan’s access to Afghanistan in some way. The question arises in front of all the countries globally, including India, to protect their assets in Afghanistan’s.
India built vital roads, dams, hospitals, electricity transmission lines and substations, schools etc. India’s development assistance is estimated to be worth well over $3 billion.
As per the 2011 India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, India assisted in rebuilding Afghanistan’s infrastructure and institutions, education and technical assistance. The overall trade is now worth $1 billion.
At the Afghanistan Conference in Geneva in November 2020, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said no part of Afghanistan today is untouched by India. Around 400-plus projects that India undertakes in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces.
Which Projects India worked upon in Afghanistan?
Salma dam: India built the 42MW Salma Dam in Herat province. TIts a hydropower and irrigation project, completed against many odds and inaugurated in 2016, is the Afghan-India Friendship Dam. In recent weeks, the Taliban attacked nearby places, killing several troops of Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed that the area around the dam is now under their control.
Zaranj-Delaram Highway : 218-km Zaranj-Delaram highway built by the Border Roads Organisation. Zaranj locates close to Afghanistan’s border with Iran. The $150-million route goes along the Khash Rud river to Delaram to the northeast of Zaranj, there it connects to a ring road that links Kandahar in the south, Ghazni and Kabul in the east, Herat in the west and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north.
Parliament : The Afghan Parliament in Kabul was built by India at $90 million. It was inaugurated in 2015; Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the building. In Inauguration, PM quote Rumi, born in Balkh, Afghanistan, and the immortal ‘Yaari hai Imaan Mera yaar meri Zindagi from Zanjeer. Modi called the building India’s tribute to democracy in Afghanistan. One of the blocks in the building is named after former PM AB Vajpayee.
Transportation : India gifted 400 buses and 200 mini-buses for urban transit, 285 military vehicles for the Afghan National Army, 105 utility vehicles for municipalities, and ten ambulances for hospitals in five cities. It also gave three Air India aircraft to Ariana, the Afghan national carrier, to restart operations.
Health infrastructure : India reconstructed a children’s hospital it helped build in Kabul in 1972 named Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health in 1985. ‘Indian Medical Missions’ have held free consultation camps in several areas. Thousands who lost their limbs after stepping on mines left over from the war have been fitted with the Jaipur Foot. India has also built clinics in the border provinces of Badakhshan, Balkh, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nooristan, Paktia and Paktika.
Can India protect their assets in Afghanistan?
Recently Taliban asked its fighters to target infrastructure and projects built by Afghanistan. According to ANI, the Pakistani and the Taliban fighters there have been sent in with specific instructions to target the Indian-built assets in the war-torn country.
As per estimates, more than 10,000 Pakistanis have entered the war zone in Afghanistan to openly support the Taliban’s offensive against the Ashraf Ghani-led Afghanistan government. Also, the Afghanistan accused Pakistan Air Force of helping the Taliban strengthen their position in Afghanistan.
The Indian embassy in Kabul issued a security advisory for Indian nationals in Afghanistan, calling the situation dangerous. Various terrorist outfits have scaled up violence and attacked outsiders, including non-locals of Afghan origin. Indian citizens have been advised to avoid non-essential movement and peak-hour commuting; it is doubtful the situation will return to normality sooner. There is a high possibility that someday India may have to evacuate Indians. According to various experts on Afghanistan, the Taliban may take complete control over Afghanistan in the next six months. Their stand is entirely against India. It’s tough for India to protect its assets in Afghanistan.