India is Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner, the Pentagon has said as it praised New Delhi’s contributions to the peaceful development of the war-torn country. Pentagon, in its semi-annual Afghan report to the US Congress that covers the period of June to November 2018, said India interpreted the new US South Asia policy as an opportunity to increase its economic involvement with Afghanistan.
The South Asia Strategy, which was announced by President Donald Trump in August 2017, has focused on pressuring Pakistan to limit support and safe-haven for proxy terrorist and militant groups and to play a constructive role in facilitating Afghan reconciliation, the Pentagon said in the report.
Noting that the US strategy calls for a regional approach to enhance stability in South Asia, the report said this includes building a broad consensus for a stable Afghanistan, emphasising regional economic integration and cooperation, stressing cooperation for an Afghan-led peace process, and holding countries accountable for their use of proxies or other means to undermine stability and regional confidence.
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“India is Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region,” said the Pentagon. Since late 2015, India has pledged USD 1 billion in development assistance in addition to the approximate USD 2 billion already spent on Afghan infrastructure.
India continues to invest in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, it said. “India provides significant training opportunities for Afghan officers and enlisted personnel and has frequently offered to increase its burden-sharing for Afghanistan. Approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military academy and commissioning programs,” the Pentagon said.