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Feb 19, 2014 at 09:33am IST

Despite fear of Taliban's rise, India starts projects in Afghanistan

Kandhar: In an attempt to root out terror, India and Afghanistan inaugurated a new agricultural university in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. The project which is part of India's 2 billion dollar development commitment to Aghanistan was inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and will cost nearly 8 million dollars.

While the effort is welcome, the needs in the country are changing. With elections due in Apri, faltering talks with the Taliban, and the American pullout looming large over security concerns. Afghanistan wants India to provide tanks, helicopters, and small arms but India has resisted so far in the demand. The External Affairs minister has maintained that they are committed to their help to Afghanistan. "We are helping them with many issues including building highways, capacity building for their armed and police forces, etc. We are committed to them," Khurshid said.

In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, who will step down soon, said that he is not worried. Rather he termed the reports in the Western media to be false. "The security is good. The country will vote in elections. They will come out stronger now. What you hear in the western press is not true," he said.

But there are worries that the coming months will see the Taliban rise again aided by the ISI in Pakistan, that have also targeted the Indian embassy and projects in the country. "Taliban has no strength, it is these rogue countries like Pakistan and Iran that give it strength," said a worried resident.

There is also symbolism attached to this project. The area of Tarnak farms where the project has been inaugurated was once the headquarters of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. To that end, India is planting a thousand flowers, where terror once reigned.