A diplomatic overdrive that Prime Minister Narendra Modi started when he inaugurated the newly-built Afghanistan parliament at the end of last year in Kabul has now continued in sports. In view of terror threat, India provided the National Security Guard commandos (NSG) to protect the sportspersons from Afghanistan and Pakistan who are participating in the ongoing 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati. Now, India has also arranged for almost ‘free’ air travel for the entire Afghanistan contingent from Kabul to Guwahati via New Delhi after both nations discussed the matter at the highest level last week, said senior officials of Union sports ministry in Guwahati.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our efforts have been to help every country so that they can send their best team and in full strength. India had always played a role in helping Afghanistan in developing its sporting talents, this time was no different,” said Injeti Srinivas, the CEO of the South Asian Games’ organising committee.This is perhaps for the first time in the history of the Games that India has helped another SAARC country with air travel of its contingent.”India has taken a lead role in helping rebuild our nation. India has played a crucial role in sports and youth development in our country. We are happy that with Indian help, we were able to bring a sizable number of players here. It is a great exposure for us,” said a top official from Afghanistan who did not wanted to be named for diplomatic reasons.Afghanistan has sent a contingent of 214 people, including 163 men and 51 women for the Games.Sources added that the request of a ‘free fly’ to Guwahati was finally taken days before the games started, when last week Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who was visiting India to take part in a key security-related conclave in Jaipur, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.Only two months ago, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Afghanistan Cricket Board on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority to use the Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex as home ground for Afghanistan cricket team, sources added that decision also had ‘push’ from the Centre.

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India sponsors Afghan contingent’s air travel for South Asian Games