India - Afghanistan Strategic Relationship IAS IAS Target

India - Afghanistan Strategic Relationship IAS

23 Nov 2019

Category : International Relations

Topic: India - Afghanistan Strategic Relationship IAS

India-Afghanistan freedom from colonial empire

Khan Sahib and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan were famous leaders of the Indian independence movement and active supporters of the Indian National Congress. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan also known as frontier Gandhi and was not in favour of aligning with Pakistan on a communal line. However, the NWFP later became a part of Pakistan in 1947, active Pashtun support for the Indian freedom struggle led to great sympathy in India for the cause of Pashtun autonomy and freedom. The Indian government continued to support Pashtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in lobbying for greater Pashtun freedom in the NWFP.

India-Afghanistan after independence

In January 1950, the “Treaty of Friendship” was signed between India and Afghanistan in New Delhi. Important points of the treaty were:
  • Everlasting peace and friendship between the two countries
  • Establishment of consular and diplomatic posts in both countries.

India’s Contribution to Education:

  • India has built over 200 public and private schools,
  • India sponsors over 1,000 scholarships, hosts over 16,000 Afghan students
After the 2008 Indian embassy bomb attack in Kabul, the Afghan Foreign Ministry quoted India as a "brother country" and the bond between the two as one which "no enemy can hamper". India and Afghanistan signed the “Strategic Partnership Agreement” in 2011.

Afghan Culture Relations

  • Afghanistan has been a crucial trading and craft centre for over 2000 years linking the civilizations of Persia, Central Asia with India. Though, over 3 decades of war have damaged Afghanistan’s unique traditions of art and architecture.
  • India and Afghanistan share centuries-old cultural heritage with deep-rooted linkages in the field of architecture, arts, language, music, and cuisine.
  • The two sides emphasized the significance of parliamentary exchanges, and those in the area of media, youth, culture, civil society, and people-to-people relations.
  • As part of India’s restructuring programme for Afghanistan, India has frequently aimed to take up projects that will render Afghanistan's cultural heritage sustainable.
  • In the field of music, in particular, most Afghan musicians were trained in the Patiala Gharana. Today, Indian films, songs, and TV serials are popular with the masses, contributing significantly to the popularization of Hindi and the familiarization of the populace with the Indian socio -cultural value system.

India-Afghanistan Defense Cooperation

The two sides declared that the Strategic Partnership between the two countries is based upon the principles of:
  • Equality
  • Sovereignty,
  • The territorial integrity of States,
  • Mutual respect and mutual benefit
  • Non-interference in their internal affairs

The Strategic Partnership would be in the area of:

  • Security, law enforcement and justice,
  • The two sides stated that their Strategic Partnership was not directed against any other State or group of States.
  • Advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.
  • Enhanced attention on cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, organized crime, and illegal trafficking in narcotics, and money-laundering.
  • Encouraging investment in Afghanistan's natural resources, providing duty-free access to the Indian market for Afghanistan's exports support for an Afghan-led, broad-based, Afghan-owned, and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation.
In 1999, the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 landed and stayed in Kandahar in Afghanistan and the Taliban was alleged of supporting the hijackers. After the hijack, India became a vital supporter of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. The insurgents are on the ascendance again. More than half the country’s territory, mostly in rural and mountainous areas is now controlled by the Taliban. Afghanistan being a part of Golden Crescent, caters a larger market in India of Narcotic drugs which is a major cause of concern for India’s security infrastructure. Security cooperation between the two countries is intended to increase their mutual efforts in the fight against terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, and so on. Further, India also agreed to help in the equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces.

Three major documents were exchanged:

  • The Orbit Frequency Coordination Agreement b/w India and Afghanistan on South Asia Satellite (SAS)
  • Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Personal, Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority of Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for mutual cooperation in the field of pharmaceutical products regulation

India-Afghanistan trade and commercial partnership

In the field of economics and commerce, the two sides decided to go into a Strategic Economic Partnership, identifying the advantages of closer economic integration with the South Asian market and the region. They agreed to explore greater cooperation in sectors such as metallurgy, mining, information technology, fuel and energy, communications and transport, and also jointly explore the probabilities of regional trading arrangements with other countries. The two countries agreed on the importance of regional projects such as TAPI, in promoting regional integration.
The bilateral trade for the year 2016-17 was USD 800 million approx and has immense potential to be extended further. However, the trade relations will realize its true potential once the Wagah-Attari route is opened for bilateral trade. So far, the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) has been restrictive in this aspect. India is the biggest market in the region for Afghan products and the blocking of transit has affected the free movement of commodities. One of the objectives of building the Zaranj-Delaram road by India was to boost bilateral economic relations besides offering Afghanistan another outlet to a seaport. The successful operation of the Chabahar port in Iran would capitalize on this road to offer a new transit route of Afghan products to India while opening a new route for India, and the rest of the world, for trade with Central Asia.

Air-cargo corridor

The inauguration of the Dedicated Air Cargo Corridor in June 2017 b/w Kabul-Delhi and Kandahar-Delhi has provided a fresh impetus to bilateral trade. The Air Corridor has ensured free movement of freight despite the barriers put in place due to the rebuff of transit by Pakistan. On 3rd February, the CEO addressed a joint interaction with the three leading chambers of commerce and industry in India, namely ASSOCHAM, FICCI, and CII. CEO delivered the Keynote Address at the Counter-Terrorism Conference organized by India Foundation in Jaipur on February 2, 2016, during Dr. Abdullah Abdullah visit to India, where the inaugural addressed was by Rashtrapatiji. On 28 September 2017, Dr. Abdullah launched the India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show. It provided a valuable platform to showcase trade and investment opportunities in Afghanistan.