India calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said, “Increasing level of violence in Afghanistan remains a matter of grave concern.”

“While we support all efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, India calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. We also believe that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled,” EAM S Jaishankar said while participating at Afghanistan 2020 conference.

Reiterating that India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan, he said, “We strongly believe that the gains of the last two decades must be preserved and the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections must be ensured.”

He said India and Afghanistan share a natural historical relationship. “India’s strategic partnership and long-term commitment to the development of the land-locked country reflect time-tested partnership between the two countries,” S Jaishankar maintained.

“Our development portfolio of more than US $ 3 billion for Afghanistan is aimed at building capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals as well as its institutions with a view to improve governance and public service. There is no part of Afghanistan today untouched by our 400 plus projects, spread across all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan,” EAM S Jaishankar added.

The EAM said India’s developmental programmes centered around five pillars: (a) large infrastructure projects; (b) human resource development and capacity building; (c) humanitarian assistance; (d) High impact community development projects; and (e) enhancing trade and investment through air and land connectivity.

Large infrastructure projects completed, the EAM said, include construction of 218-Km road from Delaram to Zaranj (on Iranian border) which provides alternate connectivity for Afghanistan through Iran; India–Afghanistan friendship dam; and the Afghan Parliament building which was inaugurated in 2015, a symbol of Afghan democracy.

He said more than 65,000 Afghan students have studied in India under various scholarship programmes.

“While I speak 15,000 students are presently studying in India. 3000 scholarships so far have been granted to young Afghan women to pursue higher studies in India. Going beyond basic education, we also provided vocational training to a large number of women in Afghanistan. This number shall increase every year with our long term commitment to help rebuild Afghanistan,” the EAM said.

He said since Afghanistan’s growth has been constrained by its land locked geography and “we need to address that. Through Chabahar port, we have provided an alternate connectivity to Afghanistan that has helped transport 75,000 tonnes of wheat during the Covid pandemic. We were also able to send more than 20 tonnes of life saving medicines and other equipment to address the Covid-19 challenge.”

Talking about India’s developmental initiative in Afghanistan, he said, “I am happy to announce today an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shatoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city. It builds on the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line of 2009 through which we provided power to the city. India will also launch Phase-IV of High Impact Community Development Projects in Afghanistan, which include around 150 projects worth US$ 80 million.”