India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. India has played a significant role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. Democracy and development are the key instruments to ensure that Afghanistan becomes a source of regional stability. This has been reflected in the Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed between Afghanistan and India in 2011, which reinforced the strong, vibrant and multi-faceted relations between the two countries and at the same time formalized a framework for cooperation in various areas between the two countries: political & security cooperation; trade & economic cooperation; capacity development and education; and social, cultural, civil society & people-to-people relations. The commitment is also reflected in the extensive developmental assistance programme, which now stands at around US $2 billion, making India among the largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan. This, by any reckoning, is a substantial amount for a non-traditional donor like India.
The Taliban are discovering that running an insurgency is easier than governing. They face multiple challenges – factionalism and disgruntled cadres, lack of resources and governance experience, tackling a hostile IS-K, a looming humanitarian crisis, potential pockets of resistance and an increasingly wary neighbourhood. They welcomed the Delhi Declaration though they were not invited and have repeatedly suggested that they would welcome the reopening of the embassy by India. However, the Indian government is unwilling to take any chances, given the influence of the Haqqanis, and by extension, the ISI. Nevertheless, unlike the West, India is part of the region and cannot disengage. It has responded to the humanitarian call by offering 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and urgent medical supplies. Pakistan has stated it would allow for their overland transit as soon as modalities are finalised. Diplomatic engagement with Afghanistan is likely to remain through Doha or at forums where Pakistan cannot veto Indian presence.
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