India offered Afghanistan a fresh economic assistance of USD 1 billion after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The two leaders discussed various aspects of bilateral ties, as Prime Minister Modi assured the president of Afghanistan that New Delhi would remain committed to helping its war-torn neighbour strengthen crucial sectors, like education, health and agriculture, in the coming years.
PM Modi and President Ghani also issued a joint statement in which it was clearly mentioned that India offered the economic assistance of USD 1 billion. However, India did not mention in the statement whether it would supply weapons to Kabul for fighting militants. The PM and the president only said that India and Afghanistan would work together to make the region “terror free”.
The two leaders did not even name Pakistan, despite accusing the neighbouring country of supporting and sponsoring Islamic extremists in the past. Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday evening, Indian Foreign Secretary Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said: “The two leaders discussed the regional situation and expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives. They called upon the concerned to put an end to all sponsorship, support, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists, including for those who target Afghanistan and India.”
Before his arrival in the Indian capital, President Ghani had slammed Pakistan for supporting the Taliban. Prime Minister Modi, too, had blasted Pakistan for supporting rebels crossing the border into northern Indian Province of Jammu & Kashmir. India, the fifth largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan and a key supporter of the elected government in Kabul, has offered more than USD 2 billion to the war-ravaged country since 2001 when the Taliban was toppled. India’s active participation in different development projects in Afghanistan has prompted Pakistan to provide aid to Kabul. However, Islamabad has failed to win the trust of Afghanistan because of its decision to back the Taliban and support the insurgents there in the past. On the other hand, the people of Afghan have always considered India as their “trusted friend”.
On Wednesday, President Ghani strongly criticised Islamabad for not allowing India to transport wheat to Afghanistan via Pakistan, saying: “Those who block us will be blocked.” He also said that Pakistan’s plan to block transit of goods from India to Afghanistan would fail, as New Delhi decided to send goods to Kabul via Iran in the coming days.