In a bold move to assert itself in the Af-Pak region and reduce Pakistan's room for manoeuvre, India is finalising a plan to construct a 900-km railway line that will connect Chabahar port in Iran, being built with Indian help, to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan.
Chabahar is just 72 km west of Pakistan's Gwadar port, being built with Chinese help.
However, the greater cooperation with Iran in Chabahar (and, presumably, in other areas) will almost certainly upset the Americans, whose support is essential if India is to play a greater role in the region.
Based on a note prepared by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on this subject, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai held a meeting on August 10 with representatives of the ministries of railways and mining, sources told Hindustan Times.
Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhyay was also present at the meeting.
"In order to coordinate the strategy for investment in Hajigak in the backdrop of the security, infrastructure, financial and regional challenges involved, there is a need to plan and craft our strategy to address these challenge," says a note the MEA had sent to the Railways.
Hajigak, 130 km west of Kabul in Bamiyan province, holds Afghanistan's largest iron ore deposits. Of the 22 companies shortlisted for the bid for these mines 14 are Indian, including a consortium led by the public sector Steel Authority of India Limited.