India Pursue Trade Ties with Taliban

September 1, 2021

According to Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a senior Taliban leader and current head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha (Qatar), Afghanistan strives to keep close relations with India relying on economic and trade ties. Stanikzai suggested the possibility of establishing a land trade route through Pakistan, furthermore to expecting that air links with India continue to operate. This emanates after a recent report indicated that the Taliban are attempting to maintain contact with India.

Apart from China and Russia, India and Western countries both stepped down diplomatic staff from Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the Modi government is taking a wait-and-see approach. Between 1996 and 2001, India participated in the policy of trying to isolate the Taliban and invested a lot in Afghanistan’s restructuring when the previous government was endorsed by the international force. Over the years, New Delhi has spent more than $3 billion on dams, telecommunications infrastructure, roads, and power lines.

The Salma or India-Afghanistan friendship dam which was initiated in 2016 symbolises India’s engagement. India also constructed Afghanistan’s parliament building in Kabul which Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated.

This resulted in a trade premium for India. In 2019-2020 bilateral trade was nearly US$ 1.5 billion along with Indian exports totaling approximately US$ 900 million, including, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, computers, cement, and related materials. Despite the absence of an easy land route, which goes from Pakistan, trade increased.

In addition, Indian authorities established an air route to Kabul and Herat, and they primarily focused on the Iranian port of Chabahar as a connection to Afghan territory. The Taliban appear to have to continue down a similar path. However, the current state of affairs remains a major concern. New Delhi is still extremely worried that Afghanistan will become a safe haven for jihadist groups operating in India. The Kashmir issue is at the top of the priority list. In order to cope with it, the Modi government limited the freedom of the country’s only Muslim-majority state, which borders Pakistan.

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