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India, Afghanistan To Sign Pact On New Dam

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India and Afghanistan are expected to sign an agreement on a new dam to supply drinking water to Kabul during a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, signalling New Delhi’s continuing commitment to the war-torn country.

The summit between Modi and Ghani will be held at 1.15pm and an agreement on building Shahtoot Dam in the Kabul river basin is on the agenda, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.

The dam was part of new development initiatives unveiled by India last November. India is also taking up 150 community projects worth $80 million in Afghanistan, part of measures to take development to small communities through schemes that have a direct impact on the lives of the people.

Shahtoot Dam will provide drinking water to two million residents of Kabul city and also feed irrigation projects. It will build on the 202-km Pul-e-Khumri electricity transmission line built in 2009 to provide power to Kabul.

These initiatives come against the backdrop of mounting global concern over increased attacks by the Taliban even as it engages the Afghan government in talks in Qatar. The new Biden administration in the US has said it is reviewing an agreement signed with the Taliban last year, and a final decision is yet to be made on completing the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan by May.

While announcing India’s commitment to build the dam last November, external affairs minister S Jaishankar told a virtual international pledging conference that India is committed to a long-term role for the development of Afghanistan.

India’s development portfolio for Afghanistan is worth more than $3 billion, with officials saying much of the funds are aimed at building the capabilities of the Afghan people and institutions in order to improve governance. India has so far completed more than 400 projects across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

India is also among the countries that have expressed concern at the spike in violence in Afghanistan, much of it targeting officials, civil society activists and journalists. Cities across Afghanistan have witnessed a wave of targeted bombings and assassinations.

New Delhi has backed a peace process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, while calling for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Courtesy – Hindustan Times

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