Signalling its commitment to Afghanistan, India promised $1 billion development assistance and upped defence and security ties even as both countries called for an end to state-sponsored terrorism in what was seen as a clear message to Pakistan.
After talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in New Delhi on Wednesday, India announced its development assistance that will be formalised at a donor meet in Brussels in October.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar said the two countries expressed concern over terrorism in the region. Ghani came with a high-level delegation including his security chief, finance and foreign ministers among others.
A joint statement said the leaders “expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives. They agreed that this phenomenon presented the single biggest threat to peace, stability and progress in the region and beyond. Stressing that elimination of all forms of terrorism, without any discrimination, is essential, they called upon the concerned to put an end to all sponsorship, support, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists, including for those who target Afghanistan and India.”
There was no direct mention of Pakistan, the reference was hard to be missed.
While neither side specified it, a line in the joint statement, both leaders reaffirmed their resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, pointed to an Indian decision to supply more defence equipment to Afghanistan.
Jaishankar said there was a discussion on the obstacles created by Pakistan for India transporting wheat to Afghanistan. Speaking at IDSA, a think-tank, Ghani said, “Those who block us will be blocked” in what was a reference to Pakistan blocking transit of goods from India to Afghanistan.