India’s development assistance, will focus on capacity building in the social sector as well as clean energy projects of hydel-power and solar energy. President Ghani accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to revisit India for the Heart of Asia summit to be held on December 4 in Amritsar.
The $ one-billion assistance which will add to roughly $ two billion India has already committed to Afghanistan in the past decade, will be used for “capacity and capability-building” in education, health, agriculture, skill development, empowerment of women, energy, infrastructure and strengthening of democratic institutions, said a joint statement issued during the working visit of Dr. Ghani after he met Mr. Modi. The supply of medicines and flights between India and Afghanistan were discussed as areas of importance. “Both leaders reaffirmed their resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement,” the statement added.
However, the two countries did not make any reference to military assistance that Afghanistan has requested from India. During a visit to Delhi a few weeks ago, Afghan Army chief General Qadam Shah Shahim put in requests for more helicopters, tanks, artillery and ammunition, as well as training for more Afghan forces. Despite being asked on the specifics of what India, which has traditionally been wary of supplying Afghanistan lethal military hardware, would provide Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said he had nothing to add beyond the joint statement.
Raising concerns over Pakistan’s blockage of transit rights for goods to flow between India and Afghanistan, Mr. Jaishankar said the two leaders had expressed their disappointment over the fact that 1.7 lakh tonnes of wheat that India had offered Afghanistan in December 2015 remain undelivered.
“The method of supply and the obstructions to it are blocking our supply, despite food shortages in Afghanistan,” he said.
“Pakistan has access to the sea but behaves like a land-locked country. We say, if you block us, we will block you,” Dr. Ghani said, indicating that Afghanistan would stop Pakistan’s trade routes to Central Asia if Islamabad declines to give Kabul access to the Wagah border.
Under consideration: A senior Pakistani official accepted that the request had been received from India “some time this year”, but told The Hindu that it was still “under consideration” and had not been rejected.
Under the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade agreement, trade and goods are allowed from Afghanistan only up to the Wagah border with India, but not from India to Afghanistan.
India and Afghanistan also signed an extradition treaty to facilitate exchange of wanted terrorists and criminals as well an agreement on mutual legal assistance.