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Taliban asks India to complete infrastructure projects in war-torn Afghanistan

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen called on India to complete the infrastructure projects in Afghanistan asserting that they will not allow its soil to be used against any other country.

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“We will not allow any country or any group to use the soil of Afghanistan against anyone. This is clear. India has made projects, many reconstruction and infrastructure projects, and if they want, they can complete the incomplete projects because they are for the people,” Shaheen told a Pakistani news channel in Urdu. His remarks are the first after the Taliban seized power in Kabul on Monday.

Meanwhile, India has hinted that it has opened channels of communication with the Taliban but is officially yet to recognise the group. Indian government had recently withdrew all professionals working on development projects in 34 provinces of Afghanistan. India has a total investment of about $3 billion in the war-torn country and that money has gone towards funding more than 500 infrastructure and development projects like the Shatoot Dam, Salma Dam (christened as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam), Afghanistan’s Parliament building, which was inaugurated in 2015 and cost $90 million to complete and many strategic roads have been built with Indian assistance.

Among the key infrastructure projects taken up by India are the 218-km-long highway from Zaranj to Delaram in Afghanistan’s south-western Nimroz province and the laying of a 220kV transmission line to Kabul along with power sub-stations.

On the education front, India helped set up the Afghanistan National Agricultural Sciences and Technology University (ANASTU) in Kandahar while annual scholarships are granted for Afghan students to pursue undergraduate and higher studies in India.

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India also provided “training, equipment and capacity building programmes to Afghanistan National Security Forces

However, last week, the external affairs ministry clarified India has no role once the projects are completed and it would be up to the Afghan people to protect them. Meanwhile, the Taliban spokesperson said the group’s policy does not allow if anyone wants to use Afghan soil for their objectives or for their military objectives or for their rivalries.

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