As I travelled to Kandahar on October 4, 2011, the day India signed the Agreement on Strategic Partnership (ASP) with Afghanistan, I could feel a sense of optimism and achievement among Afghan officials, politicians, business and women’s groups in the province.
There was overwhelming hope that India would be an enduring and reliable friend. ASP was meant to institutionalise the decade long gains India had made through its development assistance policy.
From the saga of the hijacking of IC-814 in December 1999 and negotiations in Kandahar for the release of the aircraft to the closure of its mission in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime, India had come a long way in re-establishing its presence in the war-ravaged country after 2001.
Two decades later, however, with the closure of its consulate and evacuation of the diplomatic staff from Kandahar on July 10, India is left to salvage whatever little it can from its two-decade-long engagement.