Author: Parveen Bhardwaj (Author is an Aerospace Engineer and currently working with Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses)
By the latest visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to India on 12 November 2012, has taken one step further in India-Afghanistan bilateral relations. Recognizing India’s unpublicized aid to Afghanistan’s undisputed development, President Karzai, offered for sourcing mineral resources, asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to encourage a more aggressive approach, such as the one employed by the consortium led by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), which is about to finalize the contract for four out of five blocks in Asia’s biggest untapped iron ore deposits. He also added “We would like to welcome you on a red carpet and others on a grey carpet. But you need to arrive on the red carpet. If you don’t arrive on the red carpet, it will get dusty. Therefore, do hurry up and take advantage of the opportunities in Afghanistan,” he had said.
World and most importantly Afghanistan have recognized this fact that India can prove to be most reliable partner and that India’s credibility for ensuring regional stability of Afghanistan is much proven by inimitable development it endows to Afghanistan. Unlike major international aid to Afghanistan’s infrastructure development (which is used by them for their own strategic interest), India’s articulating a policy comprehends social and economic development as the key to ensuring that Afghanistan becomes a source of regional stability, the Indian government spend $2 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 (making it the fifth largest donor). India’s projects cover a range of sectors, including large-scale infrastructure projects (such as the 218km Zaranj-Delaram highway connecting interior Afghanistan to the Iranian border), institution and capacity building initiatives (thousands of scholarships have allowed Afghans to study in India), small and community-based development projects that concentrate on vulnerable areas and emphasize local ownership, and the general provision of humanitarian assistance.Where India’s successes have been acknowledged (the efforts of the Self-Employed Woman’s Association, SEWA, for example, have been praised by Hillary Clinton) Western agencies have been keen to piggy-back—attaining from India the ‘biggest bang for development buck’.
Secondly India has historically enjoyed good relations with Afghanistan. From ancient civilization ties to the contemporary influence of Hindi movies, the two countries have nurtured cultural affinities. Due to this people of Afghanistan indentifies themselves much closely to India which was very well confronted by many peace keeping forces involved in the region. Thirdly geography has freed the relationship from the complications of disputed borders that plague relations between Kabul and Islamabad on one side, and Islamabad and Delhi on the other.
India also recognizes strategic implication and its national interest for its presence in Afghanistan, which was seen in New Delhi upfront memorandum of understanding (MoU) in coalition with Afghanistan. Coalition can give India vital strategic implication to its national security by keeping close eye on Pakistan and its major terrorist activities. It also open doors for its increasing energy requirements by exploiting potential natural reserve present in region. Presence can also ensure security to India’s long term strategy of Trans-Afghan pipeline for its energy demands. It can also establish long awaited confidence building between countries surrounded by Afghanistan such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan etc to strengthen its international relationship and foreign policy reach. More importantly stability in Afghanistan significantly contribute to regional stability which ensure national security of India.
 The Hindu newspaper “Karzai wants India to grab Afghan mining opportunities”, 12 November 2012.
 World bank development report 2012
 “Why India matters in Afghanistan” BY Daniel Norfolk
 SEWA to help Afghanistan develop centre for vocational training, BS Reporter / Ahmedabad April 09, 2007