India and Afghanistan have shared close cultural ties throughout history. India has supported successive governments in Afghanistan during the cold war period. For instance,it has supported the regime installed by the Soviet Union after its occupation of Afghanistan. The relations however soured with the arrival of the Taliban regime in Kabul during the 1990s. During this turbulent period, India supported the efforts of Northern Alliance to defeat the Taliban. The terrorist attacks on the USA in 2001 have once again turned the tide in relations. With the overthrowing of the Taliban by the NATO and the emergence of democratic forces in Afghanistan, India sought to revive the ties. The relationship ever since could be summarised in the following points.
1. India has steadfastly supported the new government at Kabul especially the government of Mr Hamid Karzai.
2. India has been the region's leading donor with promised aid to the tune of more than a billion dollars (750 million USD + 450 million USD).
3. India has sought to improve the infrastructure of this war torn country by building roads, dams, electricity transmission lines, schools, hospitals and even the new parliament building in Kabul which is a true symbol of democracy.
4. It built a road link between Zaranj and Delaram which is eventually connected to the deep sea Iranian port of Chahbar. This link provides an alternate route to Afghanistan by avoiding Pakistan. It is also working on the construction of Salma dam(power project).
5. It is involved in the training of Afghan civil servants so that they could administer their country more effectively.
6. India has played a major role in the entry of Afghanistan to SAARC.
Afghanistan is a key country for India to develop strong relations because
1. It acts as a gateway to the oil rich central Asian countries like Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
2. It could be used as a leverage against Pakistan. Pakistan is indeed threatened by the growth in relations between these two countries. Pakistan has traditionally viewed Afghanistan as its own backyard.
3. The reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan provide business opportunities for Indian companies.