That India is playing a very important role in the neighbourhood and that India-US ties are at their highest level since 1947 can be measured from how the top brass of the US army is looking at India. General John Nicholson, Commander Resolute Support and United States Forces in Afghanistan, said that it is India’s military aid that is helping Afghanistan build its security apparatus, fight the Taliban and bring peace in the region.
Underlining that Kabul has sought more military supplies from India, especially Mi-25 attack helicopters, Nicholson said that US favours New Delhi’s support for peace in the war-torn and terror-infested country.
“I cannot speak for the Afghan government. But I know that they have requested more and would like more and I think there is an immediate need for more as these aircraft can immediately get into the fight,” he said. Late in 2015, India gifted four Mi-25 choppers to Afghanistan, which Kabul used to effectively counter the Taliban and other terror groups.
Nicholson met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary S Jaishankar and defence secretary G Mohan Kumar on his second visit to India. He pointed out the need for India’s contribution to restoring peace and stability in the landlocked country to help thwart the various terror groups threatening peace and stability in the region.
He also recognised India’s contribution in providing military training to thousands of Afghan security forces.
At the same time, Nicholson said that the US has asked Pakistan to contain terror networks operating from its soil while pointing out that the Taliban “enjoys sanctuaries” in the country.
“We consistently encourage Pakistan to take action against terrorist groups that operate from its territory and close down their safe havens,” he told a group of journalists.
General Nicholson meeting Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh in New Delhi. PTI
Not happy with India’s military aid to Afghanistan, Pakistan has reportedly raised “concerns” yet the US is not paying any attention to those. The focus, as Nicholson said, is on building a “counter terrorism platform” against all terror groups in the region.
The biggest worry for the US is the emergence of Islamic State in some districts in Afghanistan.
But Nicholson drew attention to the fact that the Afghan security forces were increasingly becoming more efficient against the terror groups. Backed by the US and the attack helicopters, Afghan security forces have recently succeeded in eliminating 300 IS terrorists in multiple operations. “That’s about 25 per cent of the organization,” Nicholson said while crediting India for the training provided to the security forces.
India has been at the forefront of the reconstruction in Afghanistan. India built the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat province and is building the Chabahar Port in Iran to facilitate the movement of goods to Afghanistan.