India on Thursday said that its "special relationship" with the Afghan people and the key elements of a UN Security Council resolution will continue to guide its approach towards Afghanistan. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said this in Rajya Sabha while replying to a question on India's policy of supplying humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in Kabul in last August.
"India has historical and civilizational ties with Afghanistan. Our special relationship with the Afghan people and key elements of UN Security Council Resolution 2593 will continue to guide India's approach to Afghanistan," he said. The UNSC resolution, adopted on August 30 under India's presidency of the global body, talked about the need for upholding human rights in Afghanistan, demanded that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism and that a negotiated political settlement should be found out to the crisis.
Muraleedharan also highlighted India's assistance to Afghanistan in diverse sectors in the last several years. "India's development partnership with Afghanistan has included more than 500 projects spread across each of the 34 provinces of the country in critical areas such as power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education, agriculture and capacity building," he said. "In all, more than USD 3 billion has been invested in the welfare of the people of Afghanistan. Most of the projects have been completed and handed over," the minister said in his written reply. In view of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, he said India has supplied life-saving essential medicines and 500,000 doses of COVID Vaccine to Afghanistan. India has not recognised the new regime in Afghanistan and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country. To a separate question, Muraleedharan said that India is committed to developing friendly and mutually beneficial relations with all its neighbours under its 'Neighbourhood First' policy. In line with this, he added, India continues to support Sri Lanka in all possible ways to overcome the economic and other challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. "In January 2022, India extended a USD 400 million currency swap to Sri Lanka under the SAARC framework and agreed to deferral of Asian Clearing Union settlement of USD 515.2 million by two months," he said.
"In addition, a new Line of Credit of USD 500 million was extended to Sri Lanka by the government for importing fuel from India," he said. The minister said that as close friends and maritime neighbours, both India and Sri Lanka stand to gain from closer economic interlinkages. "Both nations remain in close touch for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation for shared progress and prosperity," he said.