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Four Indian state-owned firms to bid for Afghan mines

New Delhi, Fri, 27 Apr 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Apr 27(ANI): Four Indian state-owned entities are on a short list to bid for copper and gold projects in Afghanistan.

Hindustan Copper Ltd. Managing Director Shakeel Ahmed confirmed that his company was one of the four Indian state-owned entities on a short list to bid for four projects in the provinces of Ghazni, Badakhshan, Herat and Sar-e Pol in Afghanistan.

Steel Authority of India Ltd., National Aluminum Co. and Mineral Exploration Corp. were the other members of the consortium, he added.

The move is likely to raise fears among the Pakistan authorities, who are already jittery about India's growing role in the country.

Pakistan views Afghanistan as within its sphere of influence and crucial to counter- balancing India.

"I think Pakistan sees Indian investments in Afghanistan from a geopolitical prism, rather than an economic one. Policy makers believe that India's presence in Afghanistan strengthens groups that are not pro-Pakistan, such as the Northern Alliance," Lahore University of Management Sciences Political Science Professor Muhammad Waseem said.

Afghan officials contended the choice of investor has nothing to do with geopolitics but is an attempt to lift one of the world's poorest nations out of misery through investment.

"Our strategic benefit is, first, to get the investment and, second, to create more jobs," Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said.

There are, however, huge safety concerns for companies planning to operate in Afghanistan.

Ahmed admitted there were risks involved in operating business in Afghanistan, but added: "in business one has to take risks." (ANI)

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