What kind of relations does India and Kabul have?

Published on: August 02,2021 11:45 IST

By Akanksha Sharma


The relationship of India and Afghanistan is strong when seen from historical and cultural basis and Kabul on the other hand is the capital of Afghanistan which is the largest urban centre with the political and economic hub of the city.

India has played a very important role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan and we come to know about this from the Strategic Partnership Agreement in October 2011.

As this agreement was signed between the India and Afghanistan when Afghan’s President Hamid Karzai visited to India. This agreement is a strong signal.

With this partnership agreement there emerged the following effects on the relations of the two countries:

  • Political and security cooperation,
  • Trade and economic cooperation,
  • Capacity development and education,
  • Social, cultural and civil society,
  • And people-to-people relations between the two countries.

In light of these changes, this article talks about the relationship of two countries.

What led to the Strong Relations Between India and Kabul?

The completion of Dam Project on 4 June 2016, represents the Afghan- India friendship. This Dam was earlier known as the Salma Dam.

It also highlights India’s continued commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development as this dam is the result of hard work of about 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals that too in very difficult conditions.

Moreover in August 22, 2016, Indian Prime Minister through video conferencing jointly inaugurated the restored Stor Palace in Kabul with President Ghani. During the Prime Minister’s speech he said that to ensure peace and prosperity in Afghanistan 1.25 billion Indian people with always stand with it.

Now the second Strategic Partnership Council meeting was held on September 11, 2017 in New Delhi. The Afghan delegation comprised of senior members of the Afghan Government which was made by the Foreign Minister H.E Salahuddin.

India and Afghanistan announced New Development Partnership programme such as the Shahtoot Dam and drinking water project for Kabul and that too by making use of the fresh US$ 1 Billion announced by the Prime Minister.

This new project facilitated irrigation, water supply for the Charikar City, road connectivity to Band-e-Amir in Bamyan Province that would promote tourism.

Adding to this India also took up 116 High Impact Community Development Projects in 31 provinces of Afghanistan which were in the areas of education, irrigation, health, drinking water, flood control, sports, micro-hydro power, agriculture and administrative infrastructure.

Dr. Abdullah inaugurated the India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show in Afghanistan on 28 September, 2017. Because of this show there was generation of 250 millions of business and B2B linkages were also generated between India and Pakistan. It also empowered the commercial relations between both the countries.

There are many Indian Companies that is doing business in Afghanistan but the prominent ones among them are:

  • KEC- Electrical Transmission Lines
  • Phoenix- Consultancy in Electrical Treansmission
  • AIPL- Establishment of Hydro Power Project in Hilmand Province
  • APTECH- Computers& Management Education
  • GAMMON INDIA- Power Transmission Line & Power Sub- stations
  • KPTL- Power Transmission Line
  • Spice Jet

What all treaties do both countries have between them?

The treaties that both the countries share with each other are as:

  • Treaty of Friendship

Treaty of Friendship is between the Government of India and Royal Government of Afghanistan. This treaty was signed on January 4, 1950 by both the governments.

This treaty was established after recognising the ancient ties between both the countries for centuries and for establishing peace between both the countries with a view of common benefit to both. Keeping these perspectives in mind both the countries entered into the treaty.

  • Extradition Treaty

Then from September 14-15, 2016, President Ghani paid a working visit to India. During the visit Extradition Treaty was signed which means “an agreement in cooperation in civil and commercial matters and the Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in peaceful users of outerspace” was signed.

This treaty was signed as both the countries desired to the effective suppression of crime by cooperation as this treaty will transport criminal offenders between both the countries.

What are the different products that the two countries import and export with each other?

The Government of the Republic of India and The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan after considering that the expansion of their domestic market will lead to the economic development of both the countries. Hence, they entered into Preferential Trade Agreement Between India and Afghanistan (PTA).

The top exports of Afghanistan are Grapes, Gold, Saffron, Onion, Caraway Fennel Dried Figs, Insect Resins, Other Nuts and Tropical Fruits that are imported to India.

The top exports of India to Afghanistan are Broadcasting Equipment, Aircraft Parts, Rolled Tobacco, Wheat Flours, Refined Petroleum, Textile, Sugar, Transmission Towers and Medicines.

Recent developments in the relationship of India and Kabul

After the two decades of military presence in the region was met with questions about the fate of Afghanistan as President Joe Biden made a decision to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

With the country being incapacitated with Covid-19 pandemic and the presence of Taliban, the sudden American military pull out will lead to closing of all the gains that the country made in the last 15 years.

US President addressed and made it clear that the rights of women and girls and the future of Afghanistan was not in the hands of American military but the current Afghan government is responsible for that.

Now US is trying to shift its priorities away from the Middle East which Biden thinks has consumed the United States’ attention and resources for two decades. The core determination of Biden’s administration is to incapacitate China’s endeavour to expand its interest beyond its borders as United States greatest competitor is China.

Also, there are more than 2,500 US troops at present in Afghanistan and a NATO [Non Atlantic Treaty Organization] force of under 8,000 and Biden is committed to have a complete withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.

The main reason behind this pull off could be that even after to decades of trying to establish democracy in the country, the Taliban remain to be a major force in there and even it has become more stronger than it was in 2001 when US defeated Afghanistan.

However India over the years through investing in infrastructure, education sector, power development and irrigation development projects has tried to build friendship with Afghanistan. As Afghanistan was among the first countries to receive anti Covid-19 vaccination from India and Indian Engineers are building the dam named Shahtoot Dam near Kabul.

But upon which India’s strategic interests depend is on how after the Biden administration pull off, the current Afghan Government keeps Taliban at bay.

The recent announcement of Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada comes that he “strenuously favours” a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan as representatives of Afghan government and Taliban armed fighters sat down for a new round of talks in Doha.

Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javid said that he elaborated the Eid message where he talked about the role of security forces, the rights of women and minorities and how the relations might be between Afghanistan which is dominated by Taliban and its neighbours.

As we know that India Afghan relations are guided by the Strategic Partnership Agreement which was signed between both the sides in 2011 and for a very long time India has trained Afghan military. Hence Indian Foreign Minister said that they will support Afghanistan government by providing them with Indian Military.

It is also because of the neighbourhood that India supports people and the government of Afghanistan so for a peaceful and democratic future where the rights of women and girls and the future of Afghanistan was protected.


As per according to the research by Foundation of Defence of Democracies’ Long War Journal, it is out of 325 districts over 76 districts that Taliban has control over, Afghan Government controls 127 districts while again 122 districts come under Taliban influence.

Under this situation US withdrawal will bring challenges for India to continue work with Afghanistan as it was the US Military that kept a check on a productive environment for India to work with Afghanistan.

The withdrawal may also lead to an increase in regional terrorism and political instability in the country. The more greater concerns to India are about the expansion of Taliban military group with India-focused military groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Also, because both India and Pakistan share a geographical extent to Afghanistan, therefore any instability on political basis will affect both the countries.

Hence Farid Mamundzay Afghan representative to India has said that country expects support for Kabul from the countries such as US and India.

Although the Taliban on its part has warned that if any military support from India will be there in Kabul then it will be used against Afghans.


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