History India-Afghan relationship


  • The relations between the people of Afghanistan and India traces to the Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • Following Alexander the Great’s brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled the region known today as Afghanistan.
  • The Mauryans brought Buddhism from India and controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush; much of Afghanistan has been influenced by Buddhist, Hindu and Zoroastrian cultures until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. But despite many Afghans converting to Islam, the Muslims and Hindus lived side by side.
  • In the timeless Buddhist symbols of Aynak and Bamyan of Afghanistan and in the majestic monuments of Delhi, in Indian cultures, arts, languages, literatures, foods and festivals, both nations see the imprint of bilateral timeless relations.

Colonial period:

  • 2 Anglo-afghan wars 1839-1842 & in 1870-1880 fought between British India and Afghanistan.
  • Boundary line known as Durand Line was drawn between Afghan and British territories, But the Durand Agreement (1893) failed to keep peace and soon there were tribal uprisings which continued till 1898.
  • Curzon, the viceroy between 1899 and 1905, followed a policy of withdrawal and concentration. British troops withdrew from advanced posts which were replaced by tribal troops, trained and commanded by British officers.
  • Treaty of Gandamak – Amir conduct his foreign policy with the advice of Government of India; a permanent British resident be stationed at Kabul.

Freedom movement and further:

  • Afghans support Indians during freedom struggle; the contribution of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, revered as Frontier Gandhi;
  • The first Indian Government-in-Exile was formed in Kabul by Maharaja Mahendra Pratap and Maulana Barkatullah.
  • In 1949, India concluded the Treaty of Friendship with India which opened up diplomatic relations.
  • During 1950s and ’60s, India developed its diplomatic proximity with Afghanistan.
  • India was among the first non-Communist states to recognize the government installed by the Soviet Union after its 1979* invasion of Afghanistan.
  • New Delhi supported successive governments in Kabul until the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s.
  • But like most countries, India never recognized the Taliban’s assumption of power in 1996 (only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban regime).
  • Following the 9/11 attacks and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan that resulted, ties between India and Afghanistan grew strong once again.
  • India has restored full diplomatic relations, and has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.
  • Traditionally, India as been in favour of democratically elected government in Afghanistan and has promoted its cause. India had argued that the Taliban are not elected and have no locus standi, as they do not represent the will of Afghan people.
  • That’s why India has called for “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled” process, with participation of the Afghanistan government.
  • India continued to build Afghan capacity for governance, security and development; also India has helped rural communities get schools, minor irrigation, health centres, and welfare for children and opportunities for women.