NEW DELHI/ ISLAMABAD:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai – who is in India on a four-day visit – is expected to push for his longstanding demand for Indian weapons as Nato troops prepare to pack up.
In his trip to New Delhi in May, President Karzai had requested the Indian government to provide heavy weapons for Afghan security forces.
“We have a wish list that we have put before the Indian government. It is now up to them how they want to respond to our request,” President Karzai had said at the end of his last official tour.
However, India had reportedly brushed off his request. The Minister for External Affairs, Salman Khurshid, was quoted by the Indian media as saying, “We are going to help with non-lethal equipment, but I do not think we are either in the position to or willing to contribute lethal weapons right now.”
The situation will be clearer, however, when Karzai wraps up his current visit on Sunday. Karzai met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday and is on his third tour to India this year. Afghan analysts are of the view that Karzai’s visit to India and his earlier visit to Tehran have a different agenda as well.
“By going to India and Iran, he wants to pressurise Pakistan to force the Taliban to sit with his High Peace Council. In addition, he wants to show the USA that he has alternatives,” former Afghan minister and writer, Dr Farouq Azam told The Express Tribune on Friday.
Chances of arms delivery dim: Afghan official
Afghanistan’s former defence minister Shahnawaz Tanai on Friday said the possibility of Indian arms delivery appeared dim as such a move was unprecedented.
“India itself mainly depends on Russian heavy weapons and it is also aware of the sensitivity of Pakistani involvement if it takes any such step,” Tanai told The Express Tribune on Friday when asked if Karzai, who is currently visiting India, will succeed to convince Indian leaders to get lethal weapons.
“Kabul might enjoy a good relationship with Delhi, but Indian arms to Afghanistan will not be in the interest of Afghanistan, India or Pakistan,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2013.
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