NEW DELHI: India is committed to security and economic prosperity of Afghanistan and will stand like a “rock” with it, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said.
“We want to convey this to the people of Afghanistan through Osmani Sahab (Afghanistan Minister) that India will stand like a rock with them. We are committed to your economic prosperity and security,” she said.
Ms Swaraj made the remarks at an event organised by the Water Resources Ministry to felicitate its personnel and workers who successfully completed the construction of India-Afghan Friendship Dam in Herat province.
Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and Afghanistan’s Energy and Water Minister Engineer Ali Ahmad Osmani also attended the event.
Ms Swaraj noted the dam was built in “very difficult and hostile” conditions by WAPCOS Ltd, a public sector undertaking under the Water Resources Ministry, even as Indian nationals were attacked in Afghanistan. She likened the “valour and determination” shown by the personnel working on the project to that of soldiers guarding country.
Referring to the recent bomb blast in Afghanistan in which two Indians were killed, Ms Swaraj said the Indian Consulate, rest houses and Indian nationals were attacked 16 times and 24 Indians have so far been killed in such attacks.
“This is not an ordinary dam…attacks keep taking place on our consulate there, blasts occur…amid such a situation, if an organisation like WAPCOS says it will construct the dam, it reflects the determination and valour which our soldiers show…several Afghan security forces personnel too were killed, but they were determined,” she said.
Lauding the tradition of Chishti Sufism, she said it came to India from where the dam has been built in Afghanistan.
The Minister said the dam, funded entirely by the central government, will contribute heavily to the economic growth of Afghanistan.
Ms Bharti described the dam “as an example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts aimed at pushing development agenda at international-level too”.
“Before Modiji became Prime Minister, there used to be politics of division. But he made a pitch for development. Internationally too, he is pushing the agenda of development. This dam is example of that,” she said.
The dam was built keeping in mind the needs of local people. It will help irrigate swathes in Afghanistan and generate electricity, she said.
Osmani said his country received a lot of funds over the past 15 years from international donors but India’s cooperation was “very effective” and hoped other countries will follow India’s model.
He lauded India for supporting development activities in Afghanistan and constructing the dam at a time when “some countries are supporting terrorism” in his country.
“Surely, the history and the people Afghanistan will remember these two types of actions. This time terrorists and their supporters were disappointed. We proved that friendship succeeded and terrorists failed. The completion of the dam shows terrorists cannot stop our development,” he said.
Special Secretary in Water Resources Ministry Amarjit Singh, WAPCOS CMD R K Gupta and other government officials, Sufi saints from Afghanistan were also in attendance at the event.
PM Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had on June 4 jointly inaugurated the Rs. 1775-crore dam.
The multipurpose project, constructed on Chist-e-Sharif river in Heart province of Afghanistan, is expected to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42 mega watt power, besides ensuring water supply and other benefits to local people.
Funded by Indian government, the project work was completed in over 10 years by 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals.