Afghanistan and India are coming militarily closer with each day given the common terrorist threat that emanates from the country that lies between them – Pakistan.
A few days ago, a top US General had said
that Kabul is asking for more weapons, especially attack helicopters, from New Delhi to combat the Taliban. Now according to reports, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Afghan’s ambassador to India, has said that India will be delivering more arms to the restive country constantly battling terrorists backed by Pakistan while rebuilding the war-ravaged land.
An Afghan soldier walks past an Indian-donated Mi-25 in Kabul. AP
Abdali said, “We are grateful for the four helicopters. But we need more, we need much more. Today we are heading into a situation that is worrisome for everyone in the region including India.” Abdali warned that the Afghan security forces are finding it difficult to fight Taliban and the Islamic State, which is trying to gain foothold in the northern part of the country. By May this year, Afghanistan had lost 5 per cent of its territory to Taliban and IS.
To enhance the defence ties between the countries, chief of the Afghan Army, General Qadam Shah Shaheen, will be visiting India on August 29.
He is expected to hand over a list of military equipment Afghanistan needs. “The agenda for the army chief’s visit is clear. We will be finalizing the enhancement of defence ties,” Abdali said.
File photo of Afghan army chief General Qadam Shah Shaheen.
The four helicopters Abdali was referring to are the Mi-25 attack choppers India gifted Afghanistan in December 2015. It was the first time that New Delhi gave military aid to Kabul, something it has always refrained from doing fearing further straining of ties with Pakistan.
Afghanistan is in dire need of military aid because of the pull-back of US troops and the lack of weapons and training needed to combat a resurging Taliban.
Besides the military equipment, India also trains around 800 Afghan soldiers in Indian military academies each year. A figure New Delhi might increase in the coming years. The United States, on the other hand, itself wants closer India-Afghan military ties. It has earlier stated that the Russian-made military equipment which India is supplying to Afghanistan is the best course of action because Western sanctions against Moscow means Afghanistan cannot buy weapons from Russia.
An Mi-25. Khamaa Press
India has no such difficulty. It can supply Russian-made weapons it has or source spares from Russia to transfer to Afghanistan. And the Russians too don’t have a problem with that. But Pakistan is understandably not favour of closer military ties between Afghanistan and India. Both Afghanistan and India accuse Pakistan of sheltering terrorists. Islamabad has also been blamed by New Delhi for fomenting the unrest in Kashmir.