Published in The Nation newspaper on 01-Feb-2013
ISLAMABAD - The Afghan defence delegation on Thursday left for Kabul following the conclusion of its five-day visit to Pakistan that saw renewed commitments and reprioritised policies vis-à-vis the contemplated military training to be imparted to the Afghan soldiers by Pakistan Army.
Led by the Afghan Defence Minster General Bismillah Khan Muhammadi, the military delegation’s arrival on Sunday was decoded on a prolific note ahead of the two-day trilateral summit on Afghanistan starting on the coming Sunday in London. The delegates held meetings with Pakistan’s top military command as well as the civilian defence authorities and visited key military training facilities to map out what is deciphered as a ‘revamped’ facet of the strategic priorities entailing regional implications in addition to defining the power denominators in Afghanistan’s future arrangement of governance.
As per reported understanding reached between the two sides, the officers from Afghan National Army (ANA) would be visiting Pakistan initially for mid-career courses (MCCs). The training programme would see phase-wise enrolments of the Afghan officers in Pakistan’s military training institutes in three stages, according to military sources.
In the first phase, the mid-career Afghan army officers would acquire training in Islamabad and Quetta. Reportedly, National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad, Command & Staff College Quetta and School of Infantry & Tactics (SIAT) Quetta have been marked as the three designated centres for this purpose. In the second phase, the newly inducted Afghan recruits would receive training at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Abbotbbad and Military College Jehlum.
The officials said that the plan for training Afghan National Police at the National Police Academy Islamabad and Police Training College Sihala, Rawalpindi is also under consideration. “The third and final phase foresees training of Afghan police. This depends on how the things go. If both sides have a smooth sailing in their renewed terms, there’s a definite possibility of extending the training programme at the next level,” the officials said.
On a rough estimate, some 200 Afghan soldiers are expected to get military training in Pakistan in the next two years. “There would be six-month, yearly and two-year training programmes depending upon the rank of the officers. The MCCs are short-term compared to long courses for new cadets,” the military sources informed adding that the proposal to train Afghan non-commissioned military officials is also being discussed but not finalised.
Before leaving for Kabul, the Afghan delegates are reported to have visited on Thursday the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul, Abbottabad, Junior Leadership Academy (JLA) Shinkiari, Mansehra and Military College Jehlum. The JLA Shinkiari is a military academy for non-commissioned officials and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs).
The delegates witnessed a military exercise reportedly at Tilla Range near Jehlum. “The delegation appreciated the high standard of training displayed by participating troops. They underscored the significance of operational preparedness against the entire threat spectrum,” the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
Later, according to sources, the delegation met Secretary Defence Lieutenant General (r) Asif Yasin Malik, and Additional Secretary-I Ministry of Defence Major General Arif Raja at the MoD shortly before proceeding to the PAF (Pakistan Air Force) Base Chaklala.
Earlier on Monday, the Afghan defence minister had met Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The meeting was seen as an expression of the realisation from Afghan side that Pakistan held ‘centrality’ in the negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. While the Afghan minister is said to have spoken high about Pakistan, General Kayani is quoted having assured General Muhammadi of the military’s support for ‘Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.’
The visiting delegation included Major General Afzal Aman Director General Military Operations, Maj-Gen Abdul Manan Farahi Director General Military Intelligence and Investigation, Maj-Gen Payanda Mohammad Nazim Inspector General Training and Maj-Gen Aminullah Karim Commandant National Defence College Afghanistan.
Reportedly, the delegation would share its input, being considered vital in connection with the forthcoming London summit, with the Afghan government and the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) leadership.
Since 2003, the NATO oversees its training programme for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to strengthen their operational preparedness and professional capability against the militancy in Afghanistan. The programme has been marked with difficulties owing to shortage of trainers and security threats to allied soldiers coming from Afghan soldiers.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 01-Feb-2013