Afghanistan–India relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Indo-Afghan relations
Map indicating locations of India and Afghanistan


Diplomatic mission
Embassy of Afghanistan, New DelhiEmbassy of India, Kabul
Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra TandonAfghan Ambassador to India Tahir Qadiry
Afghan embassy in New Delhi, India.

Afghanistan-India relations (Dari: روابط افغانستان و هند‎; Pashto: د افغانستان - هند اړیکې‎; Hindi: अफगानिस्तान-भारत संबंध), also referred to Afghan-Indian relations or Indian-Afghan relations or Indo-Afghan relations, are the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and India, which have remained strong and friendly over the decades. India and Afghanistan had been historical neighbours, and share cultural ties through Bollywood and cricket.[1][2]

The Republic of India was the only South Asian country to recognize the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s, though relations were diminished during the 1990s Afghan civil war and the Taliban government.[3] India aided the overthrow of the Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to the present day Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[4][5] Indians are working in various construction projects, as part of India's rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. Pakistan alleges the Indian intelligence agency R&AW is working in cover to malign Pakistan and train and support insurgents,[6][7][8] a claim rejected strongly by India.[9]

A cousin of then-President Hamid Karzai said in 2007 that India is the "most cherished partner of Afghanistan."[10] Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Afghanistan's ambassador to India, in April 2017 pointed out that India "is the biggest regional donor to Afghanistan and fifth largest donor globally with over $3 billion in assistance. India has built over 200 public and private schools, sponsors over 1,000 scholarships, hosts over 16,000 Afghan students."[11] In the aftermath of the 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul, the Afghan Foreign Ministry quoted India as a "brother country" and the relationship between the two as one which "no enemy can hamper". Relations between Afghanistan and India received a major boost in 2011 with the signing of a strategic partnership agreement,[12] Afghanistan's first since the Soviet invasion of 1979.[13]

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, which interviewed 1,000 adults, 50% Afghans approved of the job performance of India's leadership and 44% disapproved with 6% refusing to answer. It was the highest approval rating of India by any other country in Asia. According to the survey, Afghan adults are more likely to approve of India's leadership than Chinese or U.S. leadership.[14]


An edict of Ashoka from Kandahar, now in the Kabul museum.

Relations between the people of Afghanistan and India traces to the Indus Valley Civilisation.[15] Following Alexander the Great's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the region known today as Afghanistan. In 305 BCE, they ceded much of it to the Indian Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty.

Alexander took these away from the Aryans and established settlements of his own, but Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus (Chandragupta), upon terms of intermarriage and of receiving in exchange 500 elephants.[16]

— Strabo, 64 BCE – 24 CE

The Mauryans controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush, and during this period Hinduism and Buddhism prevailed. Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic reconquest of the region by the Greco-Bactrians. Much of it soon broke away from the Greco-Bactrians and became part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks had been defeated and expelled by the Indo-Scythians in the late 2nd century BCE.[17] Much of Afghanistan has been influenced by Buddhist, Hindu and Zoroastrian cultures until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. But despite many Afghans converting to Islam, the Muslims and Hindus lived side by side. Many of the kingdoms that ruled over present-day Afghanistan between the 8th century BCE and the 10th century A.D like the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, Indo-Greek Kingdom, Mauryan Empire, Indo-Scythians, Huns and at last the Kabul Shahis were made up of adherents of Greek polytheism, Zoroastrianism (Mainly in the Northwest) and Buddhism-Hinduism (Mainly in the Southeast).

"Kabul has a castle celebrated for its strength, accessible only by one road. In it there are Musulmáns, and it has a town, in which are infidels from Hind."[18]

— Istahkrí, 921 CE

Between the 10th century to the mid 18th century, northern India has been invaded by a number of invaders based in what today is Afghanistan. Among them were the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khaljis, Suris, Mughals and Durranis. During these eras, especially during the Mughal period (1526–1858), many Afghans began immigrating to India due to political unrest in their regions.[19]

Border crossing between British India and Afghanistan in 1934

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Khan Sahib were prominent leaders of the Indian independence movement and active supporters of the Indian National Congress. Although the NWFP became part of Pakistan in 1947, active Pashtun support for the Indian freedom struggle led to great sympathy in India for the cause of Pashtun autonomy and freedom. The Indian government continued to support Pashtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in lobbying for greater Pashtun freedom in the NWFP.[4] Indians are working in various construction projects, as part of India's rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, although the Indian intelligence agency RAW is accused by countries such as Pakistan of working to malign Pakistan and train & support insurgents.[6][7][8] These workers are estimated to be anywhere between 3,000 and 4,000. Indian nationals stationed in Afghanistan have often faced continuous security threats in the country, with kidnappings and many attacks (such as the February 2010 Kabul attack) deliberately carried out on them.

In January 1950, a five-year Treaty of Friendship was signed between the two countries in New Delhi. Other than affirming "everlasting peace and friendship between the two Governments", the treaty provided for establishment of diplomatic and consular posts in each other's territories.[20][21]

India recognized the new Republic of Afghanistan on July 19, 1973. Indian foreign minister Swaran Singh visited Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan in October that year, and Khan visited India in March 1975. On July 7, 1974, the two countries signed a trade protocol.[19]

Soviet occupation to Taliban regime[edit]

The Republic of India was the only South Asian nation to recognise the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan[12] and the Soviet Union's military presence in Afghan territories, and provided humanitarian aid to President Najibullah's Government in Afghanistan.[3] Following the withdrawal of the Soviet armed forces from Afghanistan in 1989, India continued to support Najibullah's government with humanitarian aid. After its fall, India together with the international community supported the coalition government that took control, but relations and contacts ended with the outbreak of another civil war, which brought to power the Taliban, an Islamist militia supported by Pakistan.[22] The Taliban regime was recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha monuments by the Taliban led to outrage and angry protests by India.[23] Similarly the Taliban's move in 2001 to require Afghan Hindus to wear identification patches, reminiscent of Nazi policies, was heavily criticised by India.[24] In 1999, the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 landed and stayed in Kandahar in Afghanistan and the Taliban were suspected of supporting them.[3]

India became one of the key supporters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.[25]

Since 2001[edit]

The new Afghan Parliament building has been built by India.

During the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, India offered intelligence and other forms of support for the Coalition forces. After the overthrow of the Taliban, India established diplomatic relations with the newly established democratic government, provided aid and participated in the reconstruction efforts.[5] India has provided $650–750 million in humanitarian and economic aid, making it the largest regional provider of aid for Afghanistan.[4][5] India's support and collaboration extends to rebuilding of air links, power plants and investing in health and education sectors as well as helping to train Afghan civil servants, diplomats and police. India also seeks the development of supply lines of electricity, oil and natural gas. Also to give Afghan students scholarships.[5]

The Indian Army's Border Roads Organisation constructed a major road in 2009 in the remote Afghan province of Nimroz, connecting Delaram to Zaranj. This has proved a viable alternative route for the duty-free movement of goods through the Chabahar port in Iran to Afghanistan.[4][5][26][27] Key to India's strategy in Afghanistan is to build up transportation links that bypass Pakistan, helping reduce the Afghan economy's dependence on Pakistan.[13]

In 2005, India proposed Afghanistan's membership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Both nations also developed strategic and military cooperation against Islamic militants.[4] Owing to the killing of an Indian national by Taliban militants in November 2005, India deployed 200 soldiers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to provide security for Indian nationals and the projects supported by India.[5] Afghanistan strengthened its ties with India in wake of persisting tensions and problems with Pakistan, which was suspected of continuing to shelter and support the Taliban.[4][5] India pursues a policy of close collaboration with countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Iran in order to bolster its standing as a regional power and contain its rival Pakistan, which stands accused of aiding and abetting Islamic militants in Kashmir and other states of India.[5]

Three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for strengthening cooperation in the fields of rural development, education and standardisation between the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Afghan National Standardisation Authority were signed between Afghanistan and India during Hamid Karzai's visit to India in April 2006.[28] An agreement providing $50 million to promote bilateral businesses between Afghanistan and India was signed during the visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Spanta between 29 June – 1 July 2006.[28] During the same year, India raised its aid package to Afghanistan by $150 million, to $750 million.[28] In 2007, Afghanistan finally became the eighth member of SAARC.

In July 2008 the Indian embassy in Kabul was attacked by a suicide car bomb – the deadliest attack in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.[29] The bombing killed 58 people[30] and wounded 141.[31] Senior Indian Army officer Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta was entering the embassy gates in a car along with V. Venkateswara Rao when the attack took place. Both were killed in the blast.[31] The Afghan government's official position implies that Pakistan's ISI was involved in the attack. This position has found support in recent leaks of classified information by WikiLeaks.

During the 15th SAARC summit in Colombo, India pledged another $450 million alongside a further $750 million already pledged for ongoing and forthcoming projects. In August 2008, Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited New Delhi. This visit further strengthened bilateral relations, and Prime Minister Singh pledged further aid for Afghanistan.[32]

On 18 October 2009, the Indian embassy in Kabul was attacked again by a car bomb, little more than a year after the previous attack. The attack killed at least 17 people.[33] Another attack took place at the Arya guest house where Indian doctors were staying, resulting in the death of 18 people. India's pledge to rebuild Afghanistan has reached a total of $2 billion in May 2011 after Manmohan Singh arrived to Kabul for a two-day visit.[34] In the same year India donated 250,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan as part of humanitarian assistance program.

The September 2011 assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani was condemned by India, which stated that, "Tragically, the forces of terror and hatred have silenced yet another powerful voice of reason and peace in Afghanistan. We unreservedly condemn this act of great brutality," and reiterated the steadfast support of the people and government of India in Afghanistan's "quest for peace and efforts to strengthen the roots of democracy".[35][36] India promised to stand by the people of Afghanistan as they prepare to assume the responsibility for their governance and security after the withdrawal of international forces in 2014.[37] In October 2011, Afghanistan signed its first strategic pact with India.[13][38] The military assistance will include training of Afghan security personnel.[39] During his visit to India, Karzai told the media that "This strategic partnership is not directed against any country. This strategic partnership is to support Afghanistan." He also stated that "Pakistan is our twin brother, India is a great friend. The agreement we signed with our friend will not affect our brother." He also added that "However, our engagement with Islamabad has unfortunately not yet yielded the result that we want."[40] Both sides will launch Partnership Council, topmost body to implement the Strategic Partnership Pact in May 2012.

Afghanistan, India and Iran signing the Chabahar Agreement

On 22 May 2014 the Indian consulate in Herat was attacked by 3 militants equipped with AK-47s, RPGs, hand grenades and suicide vests. "Our premises have been repeatedly attacked by those who do not support India's development work in Afghanistan. The attack will not dilute India's development assistance and its contribution to rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan," India's ambassador to Kabul Amar Sinha said at the time.[41]

On 24 December 2015, India donated three Mi-25 attack helicopters (with an option to send one more in future) to Afghanistan as part of the bilateral strategic partnership to counter the Talibans.[42] The next day, 25 December, Indian PM Narendra Modi visited Kabul to open the newly constructed Afghan parliament opposite the ruins of the Darul Aman Palace, which had been built by India for $90 million. Modi said "It will stand as an enduring symbol of the ties of emotions and values, of affection and aspirations that bind us in a special relationship". President Ghani tweeted "Though, India and Afghanistan need no introduction, we are bound by a thousand ties… We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times".[43]

On 4 June 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani formally inaugurated the $290-million Salma Dam with a capacity of 42 MW power generation. Water from the dam will also serve irrigation purposes. The dam is expected to help Afghanistan capitalize on opportunities that will open up once the India backed Chabahar project, linking the port in Iran to Central Asia's road and railway networks, is completed.[44][45]

On 15 August 2019, on Indian Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to Afghanistan who were due to also celebrate Afghan Independence Day, the 100th year, four days later. Modi said: "Afghanistan is a good neighbour of India, and I wish the country for celebrating 100 years of independence this year."[46] President Ashraf Ghani also sent congratulations with the comment "May our friendship last forever."[47]


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurating the Salma Dam.

India seeks to expand its economic presence in Afghanistan as the international coalition fighting the Taliban withdraws combat forces through 2014. Especially, it wants to improve transport connectivity and economic collaboration with countries in Central and South Asia. India has already invested $10.8 billion in Afghanistan as of 2012. More such projects are likely to come up after Nato's withdrawal. This includes setting up Iron ore mines, a 6 MTPA steel plant (by SAIL—Steel Authority of India Limited), an 800 MW power plant, Hydro-electric power projects, transmission lines, roads etc., India helped Afghans in the reconstruction of Salma Dam in the Herat province. Besides producing 42 MW power, this Indo-Afghan friendship dam provides irrigation for 75,000 hectares of farmland in the Chisti Sharif district. India and Iran are set to ink a transit agreement on transporting goods to landlocked Afghanistan. The Indian government is investing more than US$100 million in the expansion of the Chabahar port in southeastern Iran which will serve as a hub for the transportation of transit goods.[48] Besides as a goodwill gesture, India has also constructed a new Parliament complex for the Afghan government at a cost of INR 710 crores ($115 million). This building was inaugurated on 25 December 2015.[43][49] Since Pakistan refused land access, India & Afghanistan have established two air corridors to facilitate bilateral trade.[50]

India Afghanistan Friendship Dam[edit]

Afghanistan–India relations is located in Afghanistan
Farkhor Indian Airbase
Farkhor Indian Airbase
Indian embassy and consulates in Afghanistan in red

Salma Dam, officially the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, is a hydroelectric and irrigation dam project located on the Hari River in Chishti Sharif District of Herat Province in western Afghanistan. The Afghan cabinet renamed the Salma Dam to the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in a move to strengthen relations between the two countries.

The hydroelectric plant produces 42 MW of power in addition to providing irrigation for 75,000 hectares of farmland (stabilising the existing irrigation of 35,000 hectares and development of irrigation facilities to an additional 40,000 hectares of land).

The dam was opened on 4 June 2016 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Indian embassy and consulates in Afghanistan[edit]

India operates an embassy in Kabul and consulates in Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif.

The Indian embassy and consulates in Afghanistan have been targeted by terrorists repeatedly.[51][52][53][54][55][56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nov 22, PTI /; 2019; Ist, 08:23. "Bollywood, cricket two real stars of Afghanistan's relationship with India: Envoy - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 October 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Shukla, Ajai (22 September 2017). "Opinion | India Does Not Need Boots on Afghan Ground (Published 2017)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Crossette, Barbara (7 March 1989). "India to Provide Aid to Government in Afghanistan". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Kabul's India ties worry Pakistan". Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "India's Northern Exposure". Council on Foreign Relations. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  6. ^ a b "RAW Is Training 600 Balochis in Afghanistan". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Pakistan Times! » RAW Creating Trouble for NATO in Afghanistan". 25 September 2010. Archived from the original on 30 April 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b "RAW helping militants in Afghanistan: Musharraf". 31 December 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2012.[unreliable source?]
  9. ^ "No evidence that India aiding Pak Baloch rebels". The Indian Express. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Donald Trump's Afghanistan policy presents India a chance to increase sphere of influence in South Asia.", Firstpost, 23 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b "India, Russia and China in Race to Expand Influence Over Afghanistan; Preventing Re-Talibanization After 2014". The World Reporter. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  13. ^ a b c "[Indian Influence in Afghanistan:] 2011 and Beyond Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine," Global Bearings, 2 November 2011.
  14. ^ U.S. Leadership More Popular in Asia Than China's, India's, Gallup
  15. ^ Nancy Dupree (1973): An Historical Guide To Afghanistan, Chapter 3 Sites in Perspective.
  16. ^ Nancy Hatch Dupree / Aḥmad ʻAlī Kuhzād (1972). "An Historical Guide to Kabul – The Name". American International School of Kabul. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  17. ^ Rajadhyaksha, Abhijit (2 August 2009). "The Mauryas: Chandragupta". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  18. ^ "A.—The Hindu Kings of Kábul (p.3)". Sir H. M. Elliot. London: Packard Humanities Institute. 1867–1877. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  19. ^ a b Adamec, Ludwig W. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7815-0.
  20. ^ "Treaty of Friendship". Ministry of External Affairs, India. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Indi-Afghan Friendship Treaty Signed". The Indian Express. 5 January 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Afghanistan's Troubled Border". Newsweek. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  23. ^ Popham, Peter (10 March 2001). "Taliban vandalism stirs India's oldest hatreds". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  24. ^ "Taliban Slams Hindu Denouncements". Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  25. ^ "India joins anti-Taliban coalition". Jane's Security News. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  26. ^ Adam Bennett; International Monetary Fund (15 April 2005). Reconstructing Afghanistan. International Monetary Fund. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-58906-324-2. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  27. ^ Ibp Usa (15 February 2008). Global Logistics Assessments Reports Handbook: Strategic Transportation and Customs Information for Selected Countries. Int'l Business Publications. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-7397-6603-3. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  28. ^ a b c India 2008, Pg 494
  29. ^ "hindustantimes news". Hindustan Times. India. Agence France-Presse. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "AP Interview: Indian Embassy bomber hoped to destroy Kabul embassy, ambassador says – International Herald Tribune". Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  31. ^ a b "IFS officer, Brig among Indians killed in blast". IBN. 7 July 2008. Archived from the original on 10 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  32. ^ Relationship with Neighbors
  33. ^ "Afghan bomb strikes India embassy". BBC News. 8 October 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  34. ^ Pajhwok Afghan News – Singh given ceremonial reception, 12 May 2011.
  35. ^ Former Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani assassinated[dead link]
  36. ^ "India Condemns Rabbani Assassination". Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  37. ^ Archis Mohan (5 October 2011). "Deal for larger role in Kabul". The Telegraph. Kolkota, India. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  38. ^ KATY DAIGLE – Associated Press (4 October 2011). "Afghanistan signs 1st strategic pact _ with India". Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  39. ^ "US hails India's key role in Afghanistan." PTI, 8 October 2011.
  40. ^ Pakistan a twin brother, talks to go on: Karzai. Pajhwok Afghan News. Sujoy Dhar. 5 October 2011.
  41. ^ "Indian consulate in Afghanistan attacked by gunmen". India Gazette. Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  42. ^ "India delivers attack helicopters to Afghanistan to counter Taliban offensive". International Business Times UK. 24 December 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  43. ^ a b "Modi inaugurates new Afghan Parliament built by India in Kabul". Hindustan Times. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  44. ^ "Narendra Modi, Ashraf Ghani inaugurate landmark Rs 1,700 crore Afghan-India Friendship Dam – The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  45. ^ "Narendra Modi to visit Afghanistan in June to inaugurate Salma Dam". News18. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  46. ^ "Residents beat up 2 men on suspicion of being child lifters | National". Devdiscourse. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  47. ^ "President Ashraf Ghani's Congratulatory Message on the Occasion of India's 73rd Independence Day". English. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  48. ^ "India Plans Shipping Afghan Goods via Iran". The Gazette of Central Asia. Satrapia. 24 March 2013.
  49. ^ "Afghan Parliament Being Built by India to Be Ready by 2015". Outlook India. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  50. ^ Service, Tribune News. "Kabul to Mumbai: Second India-Afghan air corridor opens". Tribuneindia News Service. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  51. ^ Haleem, Abdul; Lin Jing (7 July 2008). "Militants mounting pressure to destabilize Afghan gov't". Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  52. ^ "Afghan blast targets Indian embassy". Al Jazeera. 8 October 2009. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  53. ^ Ahmad, Jalil (23 May 2014). "Militants attack Indian consulate in western Afghanistan". Herat, Afghanistan. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  54. ^ DNA Web Team (23 May 2014). "4 gunmen who attack Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan killed; Narendra Modi thanks Hamid Karzai for efforts in thwarting attack". Herat, Afghanistan. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  55. ^ Express News Service (31 May 2017). "Kabul blast: 80 killed, at least 350 injured after huge explosion in diplomatic area". Kabul, Afghanistan. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  56. ^ Tuteja, Ashok (1 June 2017). "Post Kabul attack, India may beef up security at Afghan missions". Kabul, Afghanistan. Retrieved 1 June 2017.

Further reading[edit]