M A I N   N E W S

India may ramp up military ties with Kabul post-troop pullout
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, November 5
India is set to partially step into the expected void that will be created once the US-led security forces start withdrawing from Afghanistan in June 2014.

On the request of Afghan authorities, the Indian Ministry of Defence is willing to increase the training of Afghan National Army soldiers, develop military infrastructure and capacities of the newly raised Army in the strife-torn country.

The Afghan demand for sourcing weapons, tanks, armoured troop carrying vehicles, helicopters, fixed-wing planes, artillery guns and small arms, from India will be decided on a case-to-case basis, sources have confirmed to The Tribune.

It does not mean that the entire Afghan ‘wish list’ that runs into 220 different sets of weapons, equipment and platforms has been accepted, but it is clear that India is not averse to supplying weapons and equipment, sources said.

In no manner is this to be seen as a precursor to having Indian troop deployment in Afghanistan.

New Delhi will want to wait and watch how the developments pan out post the US withdrawal. If the democratic government holds itself in Kabul, military supplies will continue, but in case the anti-India Taliban wrest control yet again, there will be a re-think. Sources say as of now, there is no conflict in supplying, weapons, artillery guns, tanks or armoured vehicles.

Pakistan and China are also vying to fill the void once international forces, which had been pumped into Afghanistan following the 9/11 bombings in the US in September 2001, leave the country.

The Afghans had wanted that India to build accommodation for its troops, set up electricity supply equipment and computer training centre for its forces. The MoD, after consultation with the Indian forces, has asserted that infrastructure will be key to sustaining the Afghan army.

New Delhi will ramp up training and allow more cadets and officers from Kabul to come here. Around 150 Afghan army officers are annually trained in the National Defence Academy, Pune, The Indian Military Academy at Dehradun and the Officers Training Academy at Chennai.

Also batches of serving Afghan officers are trained in Signals (electronic communications), counter-insurgency, jungle warfare, field engineering and management of military stores.

A 10-member Afghan delegation will visit India from November 19 to 29 for talks. It will include Deputy Defence Minister for Policy and Strategic Affairs Enayatullah Nazari and head of Afghan National Army’s Strategic Group Lt Gen Mohd Hamayun Fawzi.

Afghanistan has been discussed between India and the US twice in the past few months. In July, US Vice-President Joseph Biden had said “America and India are cooperating closely in Afghanistan”.

In September, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama, in a joint statement in Washington, reaffirmed their commitment to “supporting a smooth security and political transition.... remaining committed to contribute to peace, stability and development in Afghanistan during the critical transformation decade (2015-2024)”.

This summer, New Delhi put a small medical detachment at Ayni in Tajikistan, just north of Afghanistan and close to Gilgit, which is part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). This is a military hospital with doctors, paramedics and equipment. Besides, 100 Indian military personnel are stationed at the Ayni airbase in Tajikistan.





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