Karzai to take India weapons help

Afghan president expected to present arms shopping list to Indian prime minister during upcoming visit.

Hamid Karzai's upcoming visit will be his 14th trip to India in 12 years [AP]

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s is expected to ask India for a hike in military and civilian aid during his upcoming visit.

Karzai, who is coming to India on Friday to attend a private education-related event at Pune in western Indian Maharashtra state is also using the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

Media reports, quoting Afghanistan’s India ambassador Shaida M Abadali, said Karzai wants Delhi’s commitment to enhance all-round trade in the coming months. This is particularly crucial in the context of US-led coalition troops’ plans to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

The Afghan leadership wants India to take up a new dominant role in the region, post the coalition withdrawal, reports said.

Karzai who is readying himself for his 14th visit to India in 12 years, is visiting New Delhi not only at a time when NATO’s coalition troops are pulling out of Afghanistan but also when tension is on the rise with the United States over the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington.

“President is coming to India in this crucial period of history to apprise the Indian leadership on the current situation in Afghanistan, ground realities and to think far ahead, given the significance of the ties now, in 2014 and beyond,” agencies said, quoting Abdali.

Apparently, the demand by Karzai for the latest military equipment from India has put New Delhi in a flap. This is because some of the equipment like Russian tanks needs the concurrence of the original manufacturer before it is re-shipped to Kabul, reports said.

Among the military equipment Kabul is reportedly seeking from India include battle tanks, field guns, military aircraft and trucks.

Traditional ally

Already, security teams from Aghanistan have visited India and have made an assessment of the kind of equipment available, and discussions are at an advanced stage, the reports said.

India, a traditional ally of Afghanistan, signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) with Kabul in 2011, under which India is undertaking an ongoing military training programme for Afghan military officers.

Among other specifics, India and Russia together are planning to renovate a Soviet-era military hardware maintenance facility near Kabul.

Reports quoting the Afghan ambassador said 350 Afghan army officers are in training in India. Some 1,400 have been trained since 2003.

Source: Al Jazeera