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Indian PM Narendra Modi dedicates ‘Salma Dam’ to Afghan-India Friendship

Pakistan accuses India of covertly supporting an insurgency in its restive Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, is escorted by Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah as he leaves Kabul at the city's airport, Dec. 25, 2015. Image source: VOA
  • The Salma Dam, referred to as the Afghanistan India Friendship Dam by both countries
  • The dam is one of 200 projects completed by India in Afghanistan
  • India is seen in Afghanistan as a strong ally and a partner

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a dam in Afghanistan’s western Herat province Saturday, June 4 that had been 40 years in the making due to war and upheaval in the country.

The Salma Dam, referred to as the Afghanistan India Friendship Dam by both countries, is built with $300 million of Indian money. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office tweeted warm messages for Modi as he landed in Herat.

“Most welcome to my dearest friend, @narendramodi to his second home AFG. Look forward to a great conversation,” Ghani’s tweet said.

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The dam is one of 200 projects completed by India in Afghanistan, with more expected in future. “I want to give the good news to my people that ‘#AFG-#India #FriendshipDam’ is prologue to construction of many dams,” one of President Ghani’s tweets read.

In his inauguration speech, Modi emphasized the strength of his country’s relations with Afghanistan: “…for others, their commitments may have a sunset clause, but our relationship is timeless,” he said.

The 107 meter high, 550 meter long earth and rock filled dam will come online next year and start generating around 42 megawatts of electricity for mostly residential and agricultural use.

Preparation to inaugurate the Salma Dam, referred to as the Afghanistan India Friendship Dam by both countries, and is built with $300 million of Indian money, June 4, 2016. Image source: bjp.org
Preparation to inaugurate the Salma Dam, referred to as the Afghanistan India Friendship Dam by both countries, and is built with $300 million of Indian money, June 4, 2016. Image source: bjp.org

“The completion of the Afghan-India friendship dam represents the culmination of years of hard work by around 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals in very difficult conditions,” Vikas Swarup, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters.

This was Modi’s second visit to Afghanistan in six months. After the inauguration of the dam, he was also awarded Afghanistan’s highest civilian honor, the Amir Amanullah Khan award.

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India is seen in Afghanistan as a strong ally and a partner, unlike its neighbor Pakistan, which is viewed as supporting the Afghan Taliban responsible for violent attacks in the country.

Analysts say Pakistan’s support of the Taliban stems from concerns that a Delhi-friendly government in Kabul would lead to encirclement. Pakistan shares its eastern border with India and western border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan accuses India of covertly supporting an insurgency in its restive Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan.

In March, Taliban militants fired a barrage of rockets at Afghanistan’s newly built parliament complex in Kabul.

The complex, built by India at an estimated cost of $90 million, was inaugurated by Modi in December. India and Afghanistan recently signed a transit agreement with Pakistan’s third neighbor, Iran, to develop a southern port at Chabahar, which will bypass Pakistan to give India and Afghanistan access to Central Asia. (VOA)

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Pakistan’s Imran Khan Government Bans Creation of New Posts, Purchase of All Vehicles

Its campaign to deal with the financial emergency failed to yield any positive results during the last financial year 2018-19

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Pakistan, Imran Khan, Vehicles
According to media reports, the increasing budget deficit is a major concern for the Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government under the IMF programme. Pixabay

Pakistan’s Imran Khan government has banned creation of new posts, purchase of all vehicles, rationalised utilities spending, provision of one newspaper and decided to keep other expenditures at the bare minimum under its austerity drive for the current fiscal year, said media reports.

According to media reports, the increasing budget deficit is a major concern for the Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government under the IMF programme. Its campaign to deal with the financial emergency failed to yield any positive results during the last financial year 2018-19, when the budget deficit escalated to highest ever absolute figures.

The government has already banned provision of refreshments such as tea or biscuits during official meetings, causing some consternation as official meetings often go on for hours creating problems for people with health problems.

However, ignoring the criticism, the Ministry of Finance on Friday issued an Office Memorandum (OM) announcing more austerity measures for financial year 2019-20 with immediate effect. Under the new order:

Pakistan, Imran Khan, Vehicles
Pakistan’s Imran Khan government has banned creation of new posts, purchase of all vehicles, rationalised utilities spending, provision of one newspaper and decided to keep other expenditures. Pixabay

(i) There will be a complete ban on purchase of all types of vehicles (excluding motorcycles) both for current as well as development expenditure.

(ii) Creation of new posts will be banned except those required for development projects and approved by the competent authority.

(iii) Entitlement of periodical, magazines, newspapers etc of entitled officers will remain restricted to only one.

(iv) Principal Accounting Officers (PAOs) will ensure rationalised utility consumption i.e. electricity, gas, telephone, water etc and the expenditure on purchase of assets, repair & maintenance and other operational expenditure shall be kept at bare minimum level while remaining within the budgetary allocation for the financial year.

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(v) Two sides of paper shall be used in all official communications. (IANS)