US lauds India`s role in Afghanistan

India is largely responsible for bringing consistent electricity to Kabul.

Updated: Apr 29, 2011, 14:14 PM IST

Washington: US on Thursday appreciated India`s
broad-based developmental work in Afghanistan, but said
Chinese interest in the war-torn country is likely to deepen,
particularly if the security situation continues to improve.

In a report to the Congress as mandated under the
National Defence Authorisation Act 2008, the US Defence
Department listed the projects being implemented by India and
lauded its efforts in rebuilding Afghanistan.

"India remains committed to diplomatic and development
efforts in Afghanistan," the Pentagon said, adding that the
Indian efforts are being "viewed favourably" by Afghans.

While lauding India`s role, the report says though
China has helped train Afghan security personnel, there is no
indication that it is "willing to increase the level of
assistance provided to the country."

"Beijing`s interest in Afghanistan is likely to
deepen, particularly if the security situation continues to
improve," the report said.

India continues to be one of Afghanistan`s largest
assistance donors, providing USD 1.3 billion for major
infrastructure projects such as electricity generation and
transmission, road construction, and the construction of the
Afghan parliament building in Kabul.

India is largely responsible for bringing more
consistent electricity to Kabul, it said.

Work on the Salma hydroelectric dam in Herat Province
continues with funding from India, with a planned completion
date of September 2011, the report noted, adding that India
provides a variety of smaller-scale projects and initiatives,
like the Indian Medical Missions in Afghanistan`s major cities
that serve tens of thousands of Afghans yearly.

"Such projects provide critical social services and
build goodwill among the Afghan people. India also focuses its
assistance on building Afghan human capital through
scholarship programs in India (more than 1000 per year),
agriculture training programs, and other vocational training
activities," the report said.

Public opinion surveys show that Afghans view India`s
involvement in their country favorably, the report said.

Unlike India, China, the report says, China has just
two primary concerns -- security and trade.

Since 2002, China donated a total of USD 130 million
in aid to Afghan Government. In 2009, China announced it would
provide an additional USD 75 million over the next five years.

Chinese companies are investing in Afghanistan, but
progress is slow on the largest project, the Aynak copper mine
in Logar Province, it said.

The deal, signed in May 2008, also includes
construction of a 400-megawatt coal-fired power plant, a
freight railway running through Tajikistan to Afghanistan, a
hospital, and a mosque.

However, security, archaeological, customs, and other
concerns have stalled progress on these projects and have put
a damper on other investments.

"China is concerned about the security situation in
Afghanistan, narcotics trafficking, and the safety of Chinese
workers in the country. Although China has helped train Afghan
security personnel, there is no indication that it is willing
to increase the level of assistance provided to Afghanistan,"
the report said.

PTI