Pakistan

Modi inaugurates ‘Friendship Dam’ in Afghanistan

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HERAT, AFGHANISTAN: In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties, the Indian premier Narendra Modi and the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have inaugurated a $290 million hydroelectric dam.

“With the inauguration of the ‘Afghanistan-India friendship dam’ the first such large Indian-funded project is completed,” Ghani said, adding, “we hope that this will lead to the development of many such projects.”

Construction on Salma dam, which will boost Afghanistan’s power capacity and help irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland, had been stalled by decades of fighting.

The 42-megawatt project in the western Herat province, bordering Iran, is one of two major projects initiated under India’s development partnership with Afghanistan.

“Afghans and Indians dreamt of this project in the 1970s,” Modi said. “Today the brave Afghan people are sending a message that the forces of destruction, death, denial and domination shall not prevail.”

India, the fifth largest donor in Afghanistan, has been a strong supporter of Kabul’s post-Taliban government. Since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001, India has poured over $2 billion into the country.

In December, Modi inaugurated Afghanistan’s new parliament complex in Kabul, built by India at an estimated cost of $90 million.

A few days after his visit, militants launched an assault near the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif and in March, they attacked the parliament complex. But, the ties between India and Afghanistan have improved despite the attacks.

Last month, the two countries signed a three-way transit agreement with Iran to develop its southern port of Chabahar.

Afghanistan has crossed a fine line by accepting Indian aid in the recent years when Pakistan has already been cautious of Indian influence in its territory and in Afghanistan.

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