India for comprehensive Afghan peace: PM

Modi voices concern over increasing violence in clashes with Taliban

India supports “immediate comprehensive ceasefire” in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday. He was speaking during a ceremony to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of the Shatoot dam to provide drinking water to Kabul.

“We are concerned about the increasing violence in Afghanistan. Innocent citizens, journalists and workers are being targeted in a cowardly manner. We have called for an immediate end for violence and we support an immediate comprehensive ceasefire. Violence and peace counteract each other and both cannot co-exist. As close neighbours and strategic partners India and Afghanistan both want to see our region free from the problems of terrorism and extremism. India supports a peace process that is Afghan led, Afghan owned and Afghan controlled,” Mr Modi said.

The Prime Minister ‘s remarks came as clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan military continued in different parts of Afghanistan. In the latest incident, four security personnel were killed in Tuesday in a roadside bomb blast in Herat in western Afghanistan. Violence has escalated in the country as the second round of peace talks in Doha last week between the Government and the Taliban remained inconclusive.

Prime Minister Modi said the success of Afghanistan will reflect India’s success and success of the South Asian region.

“India is standing together with you during every step of your journey. No external force can stop the development of Afghanistan or the friendship between India and Afghanistan,” Mr Modi said, leading the Indian side during the online event at which External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar signed the MoU for the construction of the dam. The Afghan side was led by President Ashraf Ghani.

The agreement to build the Shatoot dam was announced by Mr. Jaishankar in November 2020. The dam which has been part of official declarations since 2017 will provide drinking water for two million residents in Kabul. In a statement after the ceremony, Ministry of External Affairs said, “As a part of our Development Cooperation with Afghanistan, India has completed more than 400 projects covering all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.”

The Indian side said the dam will also provide water for irrigation to nearby areas, rehabilitate the existing irrigation and drainage network and help in flood protection and management efforts. The project is expected to produce electricity for the region.

Tahir Qadiry, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Afghanistan highlighted the need to address scarcity of water in Kabul and said the MoU indicates “continuity of brotherly cooperation between the two nations but with ever-growing resoluteness and profoundness.”

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