January 26, 2007


India takes a slow road (Sudha Ramachandran, 1/26/07, Asia Times)

India's involvement with road-building is bitterly opposed by both the Taliban and its sponsors in Pakistan, as the highway under construction not only will boost Afghanistan's connectivity and trade ties with the outside world, it will also enhance the trade and influence of Iran and India - countries whose relations with Islamabad and the Taliban are hardly friendly. Pakistan fears that with the completion of the highway, India's presence and influence in its neighborhood to the north, ie Central Asia, will increase manifold.

India's Border Roads Organization (BRO) is constructing the 217-kilometer Zaranj-Delaram highway in the southwest of the country. It will link Zaranj, which lies on Afghanistan's border with Iran, to Delaram, situated on the "garland highway". The garland highway links Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz. Once the highway is completed, Zaranj will be linked to several Afghan cities.

This highway will connect Iran with the garland highway, too. Iran has been working on improving road links from its ports to towns that lie on its border with Afghanistan. It has completed construction of a vital bridge on the Helmand River marking the frontier between itself and Afghanistan, and is busy upgrading the road from Chabahar, where its new port on the Makran coast is coming up, to Zaranj.

So once the Zaranj-Delaram highway is completed, goods from Afghanistan's main cities can be brought overland to the border with Iran from where they will be transported to Chabahar, and vice versa. The Zaranj-Delaram highway will provide landlocked Afghanistan with a valuable lifeline.

One of the hidden benefits of the American-Indian special relationship is that they can broker, and will apply pressure for, our rapproachment with their ally, Iran.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2007 8:12 AM

"A highway is a monument to self...."

Posted by: jdkelly at January 26, 2007 9:46 AM

Making the leap from the 7th to the 21st century will be very painful.

Posted by: erp at January 26, 2007 10:02 AM

Shouldn't they be building a railroad instead? (Then there's the question of what gauge...)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 26, 2007 11:52 AM

They need a Robert Moses

Posted by: Bryan at January 26, 2007 3:50 PM