|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Discuss | Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop
How a road brought two peoples closer
August 05, 2008 15:30 IST
Last Updated: August 05, 2008 16:49 IST
India has completed the construction of the 218-km Zaranj-Delaram Highway in South-Western Afghanistan despite attacks by Taliban [Images] and the loss of precious lives of Indian nationals working on the project.
The prestigious highway that will connect India with Central Asia will be handed over to the Afghanistan government soon.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images], who conveyed this to visiting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai [Images] described the construction of the road as ''a major test of our joint resolve''.
"One of the important infrastructure projects in Western Afghanistan -- the road from Zaranj to Delaram--is now complete and will be handed over soon to the Government of Afghanistan. The construction of this road was a major test of our joint resolve,'' the Prime Minister said.
He described the road as a symbol of India-Afghanistan cooperation and a tribute to the precious Indian and Afghan lives that were lost in making this project a reality.
''The road has brought our two peoples closer together,'' Dr Singh said.
He said India's efforts for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan were part of a larger international endeavour to help the Afghan people in forging a pluralistic and democratic society.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said recently that Taliban want India out of Afghanistan.
The Zaranj-Delaram road project had been under attack more than ten times. In November 2005, Ramankutty Maniyappan, a 36-year-old driver working with the BRO, was taken hostage and beheaded.
About 50 Afghan security personnel lost their lives guarding Indian engineers and crew on this road project.
The Zaranj-Delaram Highway will link Zaranj, on Afghanistan's border, with Iran, Delaram and several other cities in Afghanistan on the 'Garland Highway'.
The highway will also connect Iran with the Garland Highway, which links Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif Herat and Kunduz.
The Zaranj-Delaram highway will considerably reduce land-locked Afghanistan's dependence on Pakistan for trade with Iran and Central Asia. It will also reduce Pakistan's influence over Afghanistan and increase India's.
There was huge resistance to the work being done by the tribals along the drug-cultivation belt that flanked the highway in many places.
About 300 Indians were working for BRO on the Zaranj-Delaram project and were protected by ITBP.
However, ITBP personnel were not permitted to move beyond the living camps with weapons, so Afghan security personnel provided security at the work site.UNI
Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop