India and Afghanistan seal deal to build dam in Kabul

At a virtual meeting, Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani agree on the importance of creating a terror-free region

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani held a virtual meet on Tuesday | PTI

India and Afghanistan on Tuesday (February 9) signed an agreement to construct a dam in Kabul to provide drinking water facility in the Afghan capital.

At a virtual meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani also agreed on the importance of creating a terror-free region.

“Both India and Afghanistan want to see the region free of terrorism,” Modi told Ghani during the video conference. He expressed concern over the increasing violence in Afghanistan and said that India supports a comprehensive ceasefire and return to normality.

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“A sovereign and united Afghanistan is essential to South Asia’s prosperity, connectivity and stability. Peace is the central desire of Afghan people but that peace must be peace that ends violence and not becomes a preface in chapter to another tragedy,” Ghani said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Afghan counterpart signed the MoU to build the dam as the two leaders looked on.

“We are happy that Shahtoot Dam will provide drinking water facility to Kabul and also be used for irrigation purpose,” Modi said.

“With Shahtoot reservoir, we will be able to implement our vision of restoring natural beauty that captivated the imagination of Babur. I thank India and PM Modi for offering this gift of water, in addition to the gift of vaccines,” Ghani said.

Strategic boost

Relations between India and Afghanistan received a boost in 2011, when the two countries signed a strategic agreement.

In April 2017, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India said India is the biggest regional donor to Afghanistan and fifth largest donor globally with more than $3 billion in assistance. “India has built over 200 public and private schools, sponsors over 1,000 scholarships, hosts over 16,000 Afghan students,” he said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Modi said: “Unity within Afghanistan is important. I am confident that a united Afghanistan is capable of dealing with any challenge.”

“India is a true partner in Afghanistan’s development. No outside force will be able to stop Afghanistan’s development and friendship with India,” Ghani added.

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