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India-Afghanistan Relations

India-Afghanistan Relations

India-Afghanistan Relations

1. India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. The relationship is not limited to the governments in New Delhi and Kabul, and has its foundations in the historical contacts and exchanges between the people. In recent past, Indo-Afghan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in 2011. As Afghanistan was undergoing three simultaneous political, security and economic transitions in 2015, India had allayed its fears about its future by making a long-term commitment to the security and development of Afghanistan.

Western Afghanistan

2.  The Consulate has been functioning in Herat since August, 2002.  Western Afghanistan consists of four provinces i.e. Herat, Ghor, Badghis and Farah. Herat is surrounded by the provinces of Farah, Ghor and Badghis to the South, East and the North-East respectively and has international borders with Iran to the West (distance from the city 120 kms) and Turkmenistan to the North (distance 112 kms).  The capital of the province of Herat, also called Herat, is the largest city in Western Afghanistan.  It is situated at an altitude of 950 meters above sea level and is about 1100 kilometers away from Kabul.  It lies in a long fertile land, which is irrigated by Hari Rud River originating in the Paropamisus (Kuh-e-Baba) mountain range in Central Afghanistan and flowing towards west into the Province of Herat and then to the North to Kara Kum desert in Turkmenistan.  As per current statistics, the population of Herat is around 4 million.  Herat is renowned for its fruits, especially grapes.  Herat has textile weaving and carpet industries and is a market for wool, carpets, dried fruits and nuts.  It is rich not only in terms of history and strategic importance but also in the whole spectrum of architecture, painting, poetry and music.

History of Herat

3. The history of Herat has been one of repeated destruction and reconstruction.  Conqueror after conqueror, from the time of Alexander the Great, has conquered it, destroyed it and then rebuilt it. Herat is said to be a descendant of the ancient Persian town of Artacoana, established before 500 BC.  Alexander of Macedonia captured it in 330 BC during his war against the Persian Achaemenid Empire.  The city is dominated by the remains of a citadel constructed under the rule of Alexander. It was part of the Seleucid Empire but was captured by others on various occasions and became part of the Parthian Empire in 167 BC.   Later, it became part of the Hephthalite Empire, Tahirid dynasty, Saffarid dynasty, Ghaznavids, Seljuk Empire, Ghorids etc. and in 1221 it was captured by the Mongols and later destroyed by Jenghiz Khan.  Around 1381, it was again destroyed by Timur Lang but was rebuilt by his son Shah Rukh and after his death his wife Queen Gawharshad ruled the Empire for a decade or so.  Her tomb complex is considered one of the great monuments of Timurid architectural carving. In 1506, it was captured by the Uzbeks and a few years later became part of a new Persian Empire under Shah Ismail Safavid.  From 1718 to 1880, there were many battles until the city became part of a united Afghanistan.    The province of Herat was under Soviet occupation from 1979-1989. After the withdrawal of the Soviets, the city was ruled by Ismail Khan, a Mujahideen Commander, who led the revolt against the Soviets.  In 1996, the City was again captured by Taliban, but in November 2001 it was recaptured by the Northern Alliance and Md. Ismail Khan returned to power as Governor of Herat, who later became Minister of Energy and Water. The province is currently governed by a centrally appointed Governor.    A virtual tour of Herat city is available at: External website that opens in a new window

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