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Taliban: India Seeks Trade Growth through Chabahar Port

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that India wants to expand trade with Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port in Iran.

According to the Ministry, J.P. Singh, India’s representative for Afghanistan, has conveyed his New Delhi’s aspirations in a recent meeting with Kabul traders. Zia Ahmad Takal, the deputy spokesperson for the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported the meeting today, March 8 while his boss, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, reported on another meeting between Mr. J.P. Singh and Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting Foreign Minister of the regime.

According to Mr. Takal, the Indian officials and Afghan traders talked about economic and transit issues as well as visa-related matters. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power, India stopped issuing visas to Afghan nationals and cancelled the visas of those already in India, including students, asking them to leave.

Since then, New Delhi has established surprisingly positive relationships with the regime in Kabul, which it for long thought of as a proxy of its archrival, Pakistan.

The Taliban spokesperson said that the Indian representative has provided assurances regarding the establishment of enhanced facilities for visa issuance to Afghan traders.

Earlier this week, several media outlets reported that India is trying to open a consulate in Kandahar, the major trade hub bordering Pakistan.

During the previous government, Islamabad consistently objected to the presence of Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, accusing them of espionage and supporting the anti-government Baluch insurgency inside Pakistan.

Situated in southeastern Iran, the Chabahar Port links Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. A trilateral agreement signed in 2016 by India, Afghanistan, and Iran outlines plans for the port’s development.

In practice, however, the project is yet to fulfill its potential, especially for the land-locked Afghanistan, which heavily relies on Pakistan for maritime access through the ports of Karachi and Gwadar.

The Taliban have also recently engaged Iranian authorities to expand cooperation over the utilization of Chabahar port.