Historical background of India-Afghanistan relations

ForumIAS announcing GS Foundation Program for UPSC CSE 2025-26 from 26th June. Click Here for more information.

Historical background of India-Afghanistan relations

  • Whilst the Republic of India was the only South Asian country to recognize the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s, their relations were diminished during the 1990s Afghan civil war and the Taliban government.
  • India aided the overthrow of the Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.
  • the Afghan Foreign Ministry in 2008 quoted India as a “brother country” and the relationship between the two as one which “no enemy can hamper” which have remained the same from that time till now.


  • Strategic Partnership Agreement of 2011 strengthened the relation between India and Afghanistan.
  • The construction and opening of Afghanistan’s parliament building and the Afghanistan-India friendship dam (Salma Dam) stands out.
  • India’s timely provision of a few helicopters, which has contributed to an enabling environment for stabilization, and development of Afghanistan.
  • India helps Afghanistan to rebuild its infrastructure and institutions, education and technical assistance, encourages investment in Afghanistan’s natural resources, providing duty free access to the Indian markets for its exports.

India aims for an Afghan-led Afghan-owned, broad based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation and advocates the need for sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.


  • India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links, it’s focal point have been trade and commerce.
  • The Silk road has proved to pave the way of forever existing equation between the two countries.
  • Their corridor is important for the geo-strategic location connecting the East and the West Asia.
  • India’s bilateral trade with Afghanistan stood at $684.47 million in 2014-15, an increase of 0.20% over $683.10 million a year ago.
  • India’s export to Afghanistan in 2014-15 stood at $ 422.56 million, while its imports from Afghanistan were worth $261.91 million.
  • India delivered three Russian made MI-25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan in December 2015.


  • ICCR Scholarships for Afghan students for education and technical skills.
  • Technical Capacity building programs of ITEC and ICAR for Afghan mid-career officers.
  • Sister City relations:
  • Kabul – New Delhi
  • Kandahar – Mumbai
  • Ajmer Sharif – Herat
  • Hyderabad – Jalalabad
  • Ahmedabad – Asadabad
  • State of Assam – Province of Helmand

The cities will be connected through tourism, student and Faculty exchange programme.


 The Preferential Trade Agreement signed in March 2003 under which India allowed duty concessions, and removed custom duties for all Afghan products.

  • With the Operation of Chabahar Port in Iran, Afghan exports would receive further boost, as a new transit route for trade.
  • Steel authority if India is setting a plant in Afghanistan’s Hajigak iron ore reserves.
  • The volume of Indo-Afghan trade stood at $680 million during 2013-2014, a figure that should exponentially rise, following the full implementation of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA).
  • The Afghanistan Embassy has so far signed five memorandums of understanding (MOUs) covering commercial and medical cooperation between Afghanistan’s respective chambers of commerce and hospitals, while it has initiated another 20 MOUs with state chambers and hospitals across India, in the coming months.
  • Indian investors remain deeply interested in the many “virgin markets” of Afghanistan, including mining, agriculture and agribusiness, information and technology, telecommunications, and others.

More than 100 largely midsize Indian businesses have already invested in Afghanistan, the Afghan government is strongly encouraging capital intensive investment in the natural resources and infrastructure sector.

Print Friendly and PDF