“Indian PM has reiterated support to the people of Afghanistan”
Mr Mohammad Khairullah Azad, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, responded to questions from India Empire Magazine ...
Interview with Mr. Mohammad Khairullah Azad
Charge D’Affaires, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Mr Mohammad Khairullah Azad, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, responded to questions from India Empire Magazine on a gamut of bilateral subjects and the upswing in Indo-Afghan relations
Recently under the Indo-China joint cooperation, a training programme of diplomats from Afghanistan was launched. Please take us through this.
Well, in a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit at the coastal city Qingdao in July this year, Shri Prime Minister Modi and Xi Jinping agreed to jointly carry out certain projects in Afghanistan. Later on, the joint capacity building program for Afghan diplomats was put forward by the Institute of Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, to India and China. The first part of the said program was held in India for ten Afghan Diplomats from 15-25 October 2018 and the remaining of the program was held from 15-25 November in Beijing, China. This program was hailed by the Afghan government and it is expected to usher in an era of cooperation between India and china in Afghanistan.
Please take us through the recent high-level visits that have taken place between the two countries.
On September 19, H.E, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the invitation of Shri Prime Minister Modi paid a one-day official visit to India. During his visit he held talks with Prime Minister Modi on a host of issues of mutual interest, pertinent to regional security, bilateral trade, defense and military, renewable energy and development projects. PM Modi restated India’s support to the people of Afghanistan in various areas. Particularly, in areas such as construction of Shahtoot Dam, irrigation canals, solar energy, potable water pumps, implementation of rural development projects and food processing.
What kind of advantages will be there as a result of the Kabul-Kolkata air cargo?
Kabul-Kolkata air cargo began its operation in September this year. The Afghanistan-India air cargo programme which commenced in 2017 expanded its footprint to New Delhi, Mumbai, Amritsar and now connecting to Kolkata. The consistent trajectory of Afghanistan-India air connectivity is expectantly will be a defining ingredient for boosting trade and creating wider market for Afghan goods. Afghanistan has trade linkages with Kolkata since ages. The Kabul-Kolkata air cargo connectivity will serve as a gateway to reach Afghan products to north-eastern India and expanding to Bangladesh. In a recent development SpiceJet signed a MoU with Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) freighting to transport 1500 tons of cargo every month under this MoU. Spice jet has freighted its services to Afghanistan in October. ‘Kabuliwala’ Novel is the mirror of Afghanistan’s connection with Kolkata is exemplary since decades. Around 5,000 Afghan refugees are staying in Kolkata.
What has been the position with regard to the bilateral trade-both in terms of exports from Afghanistan to India and imports from India to Afghanistan?
Bilateral trade between Afghanistan and India is witnessing remarkable increase of more than 900 million USD, targeting for USD 2 billion in the prospective years to come. India’s main export items to Afghanistan are textiles, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, iron & steel and electrical machinery, while its imports from Afghanistan are fresh and dried fruits and nuts, gums, resins, and spices. India and Afghanistan hold very good economic and social relationship with each other. Afghanistan and India will be benefited in the years to come that will bring added value to the efforts invested by Afghanistan to further boost the economic ties of Afghanistan and India.
What kind of investment interests have been shown by Indian businesses in Afghanistan in recent years?
Afghanistan-India has multi-dimensional approach in conducting trade and business. The bilateral trade between India-Afghanistan is more than USD900 million with India’s exports to Afghanistan being USD377.2 million and imports from Afghanistan worth USD212.9 million. The important investment interests of India in Afghanistan are energy, pharmaceuticals, health and construction industry. Notable progress of India-assisted development projects in Afghanistan that includes the Afghan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam), DoshiCharikkar Power sub-stations, Stor Palace, construction of Afghanistan parliament building, completion of first phase of Chabahar port and supply of 1.1 million tons of wheat have witnessed catalytic opportunities between India and Afghanistan.