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    India Reinforces Massive Assistance to Afghanistan’s Fight Against Terror

    © AFP 2017/ TAUSEEF MUSTAFA
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    India’s increased assistance to Afghanistan comes close on the heels of Donald Trump’s “new Afghan strategy” to tackle “terrorist havens” in Pakistan.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has announced a slew of assistance for better equipping Afghanistan in fighting terrorists along with new developmental assistance in the form of 116 high-impact community development projects to be implemented in 31 provinces of the war-torn country.

    The assistance is in addition to those that are already being provided by India to the war-torn country. An agreement to this effect was reached during a meeting of the 2nd India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council in New Delhi. Sushma Swaraj, India's Minister of External Affairs reaffirmed that for India, strategic partnership and friendship with Afghanistan is an ‘article of faith'.

    "It was agreed to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries. India agreed to extend further assistance for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in fighting the scourge of terrorism, organized crime, trafficking of narcotics and money laundering," joint statement issued after the meeting reads.

    "What Afghan Army and Air Force need is a sustained support to effectively disrupt and break the Taliban momentum. As part of its continuing effort to help build Afghan capacities, in ways that do not complicate but further strengthen the position of the elected government in Kabul, India has been training Afghan military officers and cadets, and also doctors, arriving at its military academies every year. In fact, more training slots are now being allotted to the Afghan military personnel. India is also exploring the possibility of assisting the Afghan Air Force in refurbishing some of their grounded attack and transport," Vishal Chandra, Research Fellow at IDSA, New Delhi and the author of The Unfinished War in Afghanistan: 2001-2014 told to Sputnik.

    On its part, the Afghan government is already working on a four-year security plan. Major reforms are underway to strengthen the security structures of the country. The targeted strength of the Afghan army and police put together is about 352,000. Efforts are also on to double the strength of the Afghan Commando and Special Forces units.

    Apart from defense assistance, India will also explore to lay the optic fiber communication network and work on Surobi 2 Hydropower plant with a capacity of 180 MW. Indian government has further agreed to implement Shahtoot dam and drinking water project for Kabul that would also facilitate irrigation; low cost housing for returning Afghan refugees in Nangarhar Province to promote resettlement; road connectivity to Band-e-Amir in Bamyan Province that would promote tourism to the National Park and economic development; and construction of a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif. These entire projects are under the grant-in-aid assistance from India.

    "We commenced Air Freight Corridor in June 2017 to provide direct access to farmers of Afghanistan to the Indian markets. We are expediting the development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran. We will begin supply of wheat to Afghanistan in coming weeks through Chahbahar port. India also hopes to join the regional trade and transit Agreements that have Afghanistan at its heart," Sushma Swaraj, India's Minister of External Affairs said.

    In the last 15 years, India has pledged assistance worth over $3 billion towards various capacity building and infrastructure development projects and has successfully implemented several large, medium and small development projects spread across Afghanistan.

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