India Afghanistan Relations

1. A Brief History of India Afghanistan Relations

Relationship in the Ancient Days:

  • India Afghanistan relations can be traced back to Indus Valley Civilization. The Seleucid empire controlled that part which is present day Afghanistan
  • The historic Khyber pass that connects Afghanistan to Indian subcontinent is a part of Silk Road that facilitated trade and brought many foreign invasions into India

Relationship in the Recent Decades: 

  • The Soviet Russian military invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and India is the only South Asian country to recognise this move
  • In the 1990s Afghan Civil war weakened its relationship with India
  • In 2001 USA invaded Afghanistan and India also helped this move to overthrow Taliban regime. India provided humanitarian aid for its reconstruction and development after the invasion
  • In 2005 India proposed for Afghanistan’s membership in SAARC 
  • In 2008 Indian embassy was bombed in Kabul, (Capital of Afghanistan)
  •  In 2009 the Border Roads Organization of Indian army constructed a road in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province
  • In 2011 India Afghanistan relationship strengthened further due to the signing of Strategic Partnership Agreement

2. Contemporary Relations

2.1 Areas of Cooperation: 

Economic Cooperation:

  • India is the second largest destination for Afghanistan exports.
  • Afghanistan possess many minerals like gold, iron, copper etc. Indian companies have invested in its mining sector
  • More than 100 companies have invested in various sectors of its economy including agriculture, communications, Information Technology etc.
  • The proposed TAPI (stands for Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan and India) pipeline passes through Afghanistan. It is for importing Natural Gas from Turkmenistan to India.
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have jointly signed a trade deal. The deal aims at investment in Chabahar port for accessing landlocked Afghanistan by circumventing Pakistan.

Where is Chabahar Port? 

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk

India’s Development Programs in Afghanistan:

India continues to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction program by providing a bilateral assistance of 2 Billion USD. India has also completed many infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Some notable examples are

  • Salma Dam in Herat Province
  • Parliament Building in Kabul
  • Road project in Nimroz Province
  • A power project near Kabul
  • India also has established hospitals and runs midday meal schemes for Afghan school children

Defence Cooperation:

India has contributed to the Afghan defence forces in the following ways

  • India provides training to Afghanistan military officers in Indian military academies
  • In 2014 India signed an agreement with Afghanistan and Russia. According to this agreement Russia will provide all military equipments needed by Afghanistan and India will pay for it
  • India has directly provided three Russian-made Mi-25 attack helicopters to Afghan Air Force in 2015

Cooperation through Conferences:

India and Afghanistan work cooperatively in various associations. For Example:  SAARC,Heart of Asia conference. (to know more about these conferences please visit:http://my.forumias.com/bilateral-and-regional-groupings-concerning-india/)

2.1 Contentions


India wants a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan for stability in its relations. But the country faces terror threats in the following ways

  1. Afghani Taliban is a major terrorist group. They are attempting to take over the democratically elected Government in Afghanistan
  2. Al Qaeda and many other terrorist groups like Haqqani Network etc. are very active in Afghanistan
  3. The recent rise of Islamic State terrorists may have spillover effects on India in future

All these terror groups are involved in deadly attacks in Afghanistan. These factors concerns India because the terror in Afghanistan has the following implications

  • Regional security is threatened
  • It can affect the good relations between India and Afghanistan.
  • Internal security of India can be threatened as there is link between these Afghan terror networks and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir

The Role of Pakistan

Pakistan has always attempted to thwart the good relationship between India and Afghanistan. Pakistan also attempts to derail peace in Afghanistan in the following ways

  • Pakistan has supported many Afghan terrorists by providing funding and refuge especially the Taliban and Haqqani Network
  • Pakistan has been known to meddle in the internal affairs of Afghanistan

3. Way forward

  1. The security forces of USA are planning to leave Afghanistan completely. After their exit India can play a proactive role in maintaining peace and provide security to Afghanistan
  2. India is also planning for an air cargo link with Afghanistan to improve the business and supply of goods between the two countries
  3. India is also planning to scale up direct military assistance to Afghanistan and actively support its counter terror operations
  4. The ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan are getting weakened and it presents an opportunity to India for further engagement with Afghanistan


  1. Wikipedia
  2. the diplomat.com
  3. business-standard.com
  4. India Year Book
  5. idsa
  6. CNN
  7. aljazeera.com
  8. firstpost.com
  9. reuters.com
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