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India enjoys 'goodwill' and strong 'civilisational bond' in Afghanistan, says Foreign Secy

Nirendra Dev

Nirendra DevSep 15, 2021, 08:45 AM IST

India enjoys 'goodwill' and strong 'civilisational bond' in Afghanistan, says Foreign Secy
Harsh V Shringla

India's Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla asserted the friendship with the Afghan people will continue to guide the approach for the future

 

New Delhi: India is highly expectant of the international community to remain 'responsive and united' in dealing with the post-Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. 

It also said that New Delhi's investment in the "people of Afghanistan" has generated tremendous goodwill and cemented the civilisational bond. 

"We expect the international community to remain both responsive and united at a time of crisis. As for India, our long-standing investment in the people of Afghanistan has earned us tremendous goodwill and cemented the civilisational bond," Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla said in his 'Message' at a Virtual Symposium on 'Glancing Back, Gazing Beyond: Understanding Afghanistan'.  

"Our friendship with the Afghan people will continue to guide our approach in the future," he asserted.

The Foreign Secretary maintained it has often been said that geography is "destiny". 

Thus, he said India's destiny is "inextricably linked" with its neighbours. 

"The countries in our neighbourhood are of unique and special strategic significance to India, both because they are deeply interconnected with us through ties of geography, culture and history, and also because of the internal and external dimensions of our policy," he said. 

He said as a neighbouring country of Afghanistan, India is "naturally concerned" about its developments and their external repercussions. 

"India has a civilisational relationship with the Afghan people and those long-standing links guided and will continue to guide our approach. India's development partnership with Afghanistan includes more than 500 projects spread across each of the 34 provinces of the country," he said.

They cover critical areas such as power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education, agriculture and capacity building.

"Under our development assistance programme, we have built primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities across Afghanistan. More than 65,000 Afghan students have studied in India. Afghanistan is one of the largest beneficiaries of the Government of India's ITEC scholarships."

Mr Shringla further said that even as late as 2020, Afghanistan was accorded primacy in supplying Covid-19 vaccines under India's Vaccine Maitri initiatives. 

"We have also reached out with humanitarian food assistance worth millions of tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan," he said.

The Foreign Secretary said, "Subsequent to the recent changes in Afghanistan, our immediate focus has been the evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan. Most Indian nationals were able to leave Kabul in August. A number of Afghans, including minorities, who were desirous of travelling to India, also managed to do so."

However, he pointed out that these processes could not be completed because of the security situation at the Kabul airport. 

"Resumption of flights from Kabul airport is, therefore, a priority. We are closely monitoring the unfolding situation," he remarked.

 

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