Visit of Afghan President

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan made an official visit to India on 28 April 2015. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi President Ghani re-calibrated ties, India and Afghanistan focused on transit and counter-terrorism, with New Delhi offering to meet Afghan defence needs as foreign troops dwindle. The visiting leader gave assurance on the reconciliation process.

President Ghani, on his first official visit to India after taking over as President of Afghsnistan six months back, held delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Modi, followed by a working luncheon. No pacts were signed after the talks, but the two sides agreed to ink six agreements within the next three months.

In the Joint Statement, these agreements were identified as extradition treaty, mutual legal assistance treaty, transfer of sentenced person and bilateral motor vehicles treaty and a consular pact for diplomatic passport holders.

However, the explicit identification of the bilateral motor vehicles agreement was significant, as it put down a commitment on paper. The bilateral motor vehicles pact was basically a way to put pressure on Pakistan to get the SAARC treaty on line, as well as, to give transit access to India.

Both sides reaffirmed India’s growing role in building a “stable, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan”.

India, with a commitment of $1.2 billion through 2013, is already the sixth largest donor to Afghanistan. It has been involved in diverse development projects in infrastructure, education and agriculture.

By establishing direct trade linkages with Afghanistan, India will allow trucks from that country to bring their goods through the integrated check post (ICP) in Attari, Amritsar in an effort to rebuild old trading routes of Asia.

Presently, trade between India and Afghanistan faces stiff obstacles due to the Afghan Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement that imposes certain restrictions on Afghan vehicles and they are not allowed to pick up or deliver goods at the Indian border points.

Further, both sides endorsed that that they will push forward making the Chahbahar Port a “reality” and a “viable gateway” to Afghanistan and central Asia.

On terrorism, Ghani said, “Peace is our significant goal because the shadow of terror haunts our children, our women, our youth. We must have a unified approach and must be united both in the region and globally to contain terror.”

He also lauded India’s contribution of $2.2 billion in building human resources in Afghanistan. He said increased investments from India are important for the development of Afghan economy.

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