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UK presses India to send troops to Afghanistan
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Great Britain today surprised India by urging the UPA government to contribute troops for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and do justice to its own increased role and strategic requirements in the land-locked country.

The proposal was made by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Foreign Policy Adviser Nigel Shinwald who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here this evening for half an hour. British High Commissioner here Michael Arthur was present during Mr Shinwald's meeting with the Prime Minister.

It is not known yet what is New Delhi's response to this request from London. But as it comes close on the heels of the kidnapping and killing of an Indian in Afghanistan, it shows the ongoing political churning in Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban have not gone unnoticed by the international community.

London has taken care to couch its request in a language that is rooted to ground realities from New Delhi's point of view: that India should come forward to play its larger role internationally and that it has a sizable presence and substantial strategic interests in Afghanistan.

The request from London has come at a time when special Indian team headed by Mr K B S Katoch, Joint Secretary (Personnel) in the Ministry of External Affairs, returned back home today after making an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. The team had reached Afghanistan on Sunday for securing the release of Suryanarayan.

One of the important recommendations of the special Indian team, headed by Mr Katoch, is to substantially beef up India's own security apparatus in Afghanistan.

New Delhi has already made up its mind to send more para-military troops to Afghanistan for giving a better security cover to the Indian workforce engaged in construction of strategic and military infrastructure all over Afghanistan. There are 1300 listed Indians in Afghanistan, besides those who are working in Afghanistan illegally.


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