Afghanistan Aug 2012

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Afghanistan Aug 2012
  India - Afghanistan Relations India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and culturallinks. India has played a significant role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation ofAfghanistan. We believe that democracy and development are the key instruments toensure that Afghanistan becomes a source of regional stability. This has been reflectedin the Strategic Partnership Agreement , signed between Afghanistan and India duringAfghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to India in October 2011, which reinforced thestrong, vibrant and multi-faceted relations between the two countries and at the sametime formalized a framework for cooperation in various areas between the twocountries: political & security cooperation; trade & economic cooperation; capacitydevelopment and education; and social, cultural, civil society & people-to-peoplerelations. This agreement is a strong signal of our abiding commitment to peace,stability and prosperity in Afghanistan during this critical period of security andgovernance transition. The commitment is also reflected in our extensive developmentalassistance programme, which now stands at around US $2 billion, making India the 5 th  largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan after the US, UK, Japan and Germany. This, byany reckoning, is a substantial amount for a non-traditional donor like India. Bilateral Visits There also exists a high-level political engagement with Afghanistan, which is reflectedin the large number of bilateral high-level visits. There have been frequent high levelvisits from both sides in 2011-12, including among others, External Affairs Minister(EAM) and National Security Adviser (NSA) in January and March 2011 respectively;Prime Minister in May 2011; Special Envoy to PM to Kabul in June 2011 for a meetingof the International Contact Group; Foreign Secretary in September 2011; Minister ofLaw & Justice Shri Salman Khurshid on September 24, 2011 after the demise of Prof.Burhanuddin Rabbani, and again on June 14 for the Heart of Asia Conference in Kabul,and Minister for Steel Shri Beni Prasad Verma in April 2012.From the Afghan side high level visits to India include: President Hamid Karzai inFebruary, 2011; Defence Minister Wardak in June, 2011; First Vice President MarshalFahim in June 2011; a Parliamentary delegation led by Speaker of the lower house ofthe Afghan Parliament Mr Ibrahimi to India in July, 2011; a delegation from the HighPeace Council headed by its Chairman, late Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani in July 2011;Afghan NSA Mr Rangin Dadfar Spanta in August, 2011; Afghan Minister of Mines MrShahrani for the TAPI meeting in September, 2011; Afghan Commerce Minister Mr.Anwar ul Ahady in October 2011 for the CII, SME summit, President Karzai in October2011, Minister of Mines and Finance Minister in January 2012 for the CII PartnershipSummit in Hyderabad and Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul at the first PartnershipCouncil meeting on May 1, 2012.Lately Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady, Ministerof Commerce and Industry, Mr. Omar Zakhilwal, Minister of Mines, Mr. WahidullahShahrani, Minister of Mines and Mr. Asef Rahimi, Minister of Agriculture were in Delhion June 28 for the Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan , which sought to provide  a forum for potential investors from the region and beyond to meet and explore possiblecross-country company partnerships on investments in and around Afghanistan invarious sectors where Afghanistan holds the promise of significant potential, opportunityand need, as a means of bringing stability and development to Afghanistan througheconomic means in the challenging post-2014 phase. Development Partnership India has played an active role in the development of Afghanistan based on theunderstanding that social and economic development in Afghanistan is crucial toregional stability. The principal objective of India’s development partnership is to assistin building indigenous Afghan capacity and institutions and to ensure that developmenttouches all the regions of Afghanistan and encompasses all the sectors of development.India’s pledged assistance to Afghanistan stands at a little under U.S. $2 billion, makingit the fifth largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan. All the projects are undertaken inpartnership with the Afghan government, in consonance with the Afghanistan NationalDevelopment Strategy.India’s programmes cover four broad areas – infrastructure projects, humanitarianassistance, small and community based development projects, and education andcapacity development. The 218 km road project from Zaranj to Delaram in south-western Afghanistan to facilitate movement of goods and services to the Iranian borderand, onward, to the Chahbahar Port was inaugurated by the Afghan President andIndian External Affairs Minister in January 2009. India constructed the 202 kms long 220kV DC transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul and a 220/110/20 kV sub-station atChimtala, bringing Uzbek electricity and lighting up the city of Kabul throughout theyear. This project was completed in collaboration with the Afghan Government, ADBand the World Bank, with inputs from USAID and international energy firms, and is anoutstanding example of regional and international cooperation in Afghanistan. The othertwo major infrastructure projects, the construction of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul andthe construction of Salma Dam power project in Herat province, are under progress andwould be completed by 2012.Under humanitarian assistance, India supplies 100 gms of fortified, high-protein biscuitsevery day to each of the nearly two million school children in 33 of the 34 provinces ofAfghanistan under a School Feeding Programme administered through the World FoodProgramme. During the visit of President Karzai to India in January 2009, Indiaannounced the gift of 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat to assist Afghanistan tide over itsfood shortage. The Indian Medical Missions in the five major cities are providing freemedical consultations and medicines to over 30,000 Afghans every month.An innovative scheme focussing on small and community-based development projects,with a short gestation period and having a direct impact on community life was unveiledduring Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Afghanistan in August 2005. Sofar, 101 such projects with emphasis on local ownership and management in the field ofagriculture, rural development, education, health, vocational training, and solar energyhave been initiated.   In education and institution development, India is providing every year 675 long-termuniversity scholarships, sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)for under-graduate and post-graduate studies for Afghan students in India. Similarly,another 675 annual short-term India Technical and Educational Cooperation (ITEC)training scholarships for Afghan public servants are provided in Indian technical andprofessional institutions. More than 20 Indian Civil Servants served as coaches andmentors under Capacity for Afghan Public Administration programme supported byUNDP and the Governments of Afghanistan and India. Confederation of IndianIndustries (CII) built an India-Afghanistan Vocational Training Centre for training Afghanyouth in carpentry, plumbing, welding, masonry and tailoring. Another innovativeprogramme was executed by the well-known Indian NGO, SEWA (Self-EmployedWomen’s Association), which built a Women’s Vocational Training Centre in Bagh-e- Zanana  in Kabul for training of Afghan women (War-widows and orphans) in garmentmaking, nursery plantation, and food processing and marketing.Capacity Building Programmes are also underway in the fields of diplomacy, media andinformation, civil aviation, agricultural research and education, health care andmedicinal science, tourism, education, standardisation, rural development, publicadministration, electoral management and administration and local governance.Besides these, India is involved in reconstruction of the Indira Gandhi Institute of ChildHealth and the Habibia School in Kabul. India has assisted in expansion of AfghanNational TV network by providing an uplink from Kabul and downlinks in all 34 provincialcapitals for promoting greater connectivity. It has also gifted around 1,000 vehiclesincluding buses, utility vehicles and ambulances to Afghanistan.Agriculture being the key to the development of Afghanistan, India announced at theLondon Conference in January 2010, 100 fellowships for Masters and Ph.Dprogrammes for existing faculty members and another 200 for fresh graduates eachyear for the next five years to assist in faculty and student development in theagricultural sector. To build indigenous Afghan capacity and institutions, India alsoannounced its strong support to the proposed Afghan National Institution BuildingProject of the UNDP.In regional cooperation, Afghanistan joined SAARC at the 14th SAARC Summit held inDelhi in April 2007, opening possibilities of Afghanistan becoming a trade, transportationand energy hub linking together the countries of the region from Central to South Asia.India has also encouraged Afghanistan’s efforts at capitalising on its uniquegeographical location at the heart of the Asian continent by supporting regionalinitiatives like the Istanbul process and RECCA that seek to assist in Afghanistan’sdevelopment through cooperation in a various sectors of the economy. August 2012
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