After the parliament building, India has handed over another gift to Afghanistan—the Stor Palace.
Located at the heart of the barren city of Kabul, the palace dates back to the 19th Century. The building holds a special significance as this was where the Treaty of Rawalpindi that marks Afghanistan’s independence from Britain signed.
Inaugurated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and Prime Minister Modi in Delhi via video conferencing, the Stor Palace again is a reminder of the close ties between the two countries.
The restoration of the palace was a joint effort by both the countries and the Aga Khan Trust. The project, which began under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s term, took 36 months to complete. The cost of the project was close to seven million dollars.
At a time when India has opened up a new front with Pakistan by mentioning Baluchistan, Indo-Afghan ties have become even more important. The carving out of an independent Baluchistan will also involve Afghanistan getting some land.
Prime Minister Modi used the platform to highlight the close relationships between India and Afghanistan. “Indians and Afghans have always been closest of friends. Today, we once again came together to celebrate yet another achievement of our friendship and take another step in the fruitful journey of our cooperation,” he said.
The Stor Palace has been the setting for many momentous historical events, the PM said. “To those who cannot see beyond shadows of violence in Afghanistan, the restored Stor Palace is a reminder of the glory of Afghanistan's rich tradition”.
Using the opportunity to make a point about terrorism, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, Modi said, “It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror”. He assured that 1.25 billion Indians would be behind Afghanistan in its quest to build a peaceful society.