NEW DELHI -
Addressing media persons in New Delhi, visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said Kabul has given a wish list to India, but did not specify what the list contains. He also ruled out deployment of Indian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Karzai said: “We have a wish list that we have put before the government of India. It is up to the government now to provide us according to their means.”
The Indian government had no immediate comment on Karzai’s statement. Karzai’s spokesman said both countries had agreed not to discuss the contents of the shopping list.
An Indian government official said earlier that India had already provided some military equipment to Afghanistan but he declined to give details. He said he was surprised that Afghanistan was speaking openly about a weapons request.
India is not a major weapons exporter, and suffers chronic shortages of defence equipment itself, including artillery.
When asked whether he had made a request for the deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan, the Afghan President categorically said there was no discussion about Indian troops and neither was there a need of deploying them in Afghanistan.
Karzai said that he wants India to continue to provide economic assistance to Afghanistan, and train Afghan police and military personnel. He also said that he was in favour of Indian officials joining the military academies set up by the United Kingdom and United States in Kabul to provide training to the Afghan forces.
Karzai also described Pakistan as a key element in the Afghan peace process, adding it would be difficult and cumbersome to fight terrorism without Islamabad’s cooperation, as the latter had an influence over the Taliban.
“Pakistan cooperation is key to a politically successful peace process and key to the end of violence in Afghanistan,” he said.
India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2011 under which New Delhi agreed to assist in the training and equipping of Afghan security forces. India has trained Afghan security force personnel in its military academies, but it has provided little military equipment, according to Indian officials. India’s Afghan strategy has centered on boosting its influence through economic reconstruction projects. Karzai would not say what was on the list, but India’s firstpost.com website said it included 105 mm artillery, medium-lift aircraft, bridge-laying equipment and trucks. Afghanistan’s request for military equipment comes as its relations with Pakistan, which have been difficult for decades, are again at a low.
This month, Pakistan border guards and Afghan police clashed over a contested border area. The Afghan police complained they had been out-gunned and said they wanted heavy artillery and tanks. Afghan security forces have also made no secret of their desire for an air force.The clash over their border, which Afghanistan has never officially recognised, raised new tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan.