India has promised $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan as part of its efforts to further strengthen their strategic partnership and strengthen all-round cooperation. The announcement was made on Wednesday during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to New Delhi.
During talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both leaders expressed happiness at the close and regular consultations between India and Afghanistan at all levels, which have served to guide their bilateral relations.
In a statement issued after meeting Ghani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged the financial help to back India's "abiding support for a unified, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan".
War-torn Afghanistan needs international support to rebuild its economy, but such efforts are frustrated by continued violence. Both leaders expressed "grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives."
Recalling that India-Afghanistan bilateral development cooperation has assisted Afghanistan's own efforts for successful political, security and economic transitions, the two leaders noted with happiness the recent completion of major milestones such as Parliament Building and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam.
The President stressed the significance of the Prime Minister's assurance conveyed during the joint inauguration of Storay Palace on 22 August 2016 via a video link that 1.25 billion people of India firmly stand with their Afghan brothers and sisters.
Afghanistan, which survived the Soviet invasion of 1979 and a prolonged Taliban insurgency since then, however, needs to fend for itself as the United States scales back its military presence in the country.
"Forty years of violence would have broken any other country," Ghani said in a speech to Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, a government-funded think tank, declaring himself "delighted" with Modi's aid pledge.
The former World Bank official said that while armed conflict posed a great threat, it was also vital to build market institutions that could lift living standards in a nation where 70 per cent of people live on less than $2 a day.
Both leaders reaffirmed their resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement.
It was agreed that the Strategic Partnership Council headed by the External Affairs Minister of India and the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan will meet shortly, review the recommendations of the four Joint Working Groups dealing with diverse areas of cooperation and impart further guidance.
The leaders expressed satisfaction over signing of the Extradition Treaty, the Agreement on cooperation in civil and commercial matters and the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Outer Space during the President's visit. It was also stressed that expeditious implementation of the trilateral agreement involving Afghanistan, India and Iran, signed in May 2016, using Chahbahar will augment connectivity within and of the region. In this context, the leaders appreciated the recent decision taken by the three countries to convene a joint forum involving important stake holders, including from business and industry.
Both leaders welcomed intensification in the interaction involving India and Afghanistan with regional and other countries and international organisations to foster peace, stability and development in Afghanistan. They appreciated, in particular, the outcome of the India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral consultations and looked forward to the resumption of India-US-Afghanistan consultations in New York later this month. The Prime Minister conveyed to the President that India would continue to engage with the international community to assist the government of Afghanistan in all possible ways.
The European Union and Afghanistan will host a donor conference on Oct. 5 in Brussels attended by 70 states and 30 international organisations and agencies, to seek backing for reforms to stabilise and develop the Central Asian country.