Ghani may decline Indian arms to build bridges with Pakistan

Published: February 14, 2015
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President Ashraf Ghani has put the request on hold. STOCK IMAGE

President Ashraf Ghani has put the request on hold. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: The new Afghan government’s decision to suspend a long-standing request to purchase heavy arms from India has been seen as a move to maintain a balanced relationship with Pakistan.

During his visits to New Delhi, former president Hamid Karzai had repeatedly pushed his demand for Indian weapons which would help his country’s security forces fight the insurgents.

However, Tolo TV has reported that President Ashraf Ghani has put the request on hold. Afghan officials have neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Mohammad Mohaqiq, a close aide of Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, claims the president may have suspended the deal as another country may provide Afghanistan with weapons.

On the other hand, various sections of the Indian media have insisted frequent delays from India in responding to the request may have frustrated the Afghan government.

In October 2014, The Indian Express said Ghani was “frustrated with India’s failure to deliver long-promised military aid”.

Beyond weapons

Defence experts believe Karzai had called for heavy weapons from India in view of Afghanistan’s tense relations with Pakistan, even though he knew it would be difficult for India to fulfil this request.

“India cannot give heavy weapons to Afghanistan as it itself depends on other countries including Russia to get its arms,” former Afghan defence minister Shahnawaz Tanai told The Express Tribune on Friday. “I think such policies will not help Afghanistan.”

According to Tanai, if India supplies heavy weapons to Afghanistan, it could weaken relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It (India) should steer clear of supplying arms to the country. After all, even the US and its Nato allies did not provide us with heavy weapons between 2001 and 2013 as it was contrary to their own laws. At this stage, Afghanistan should fight its armed opponents with the weapons it already has,” he said.

Political analysts have urged Ghani to pursue a neutral policy to avoid any rift with other countries.

Speaking on Tolo TV, political analyst Jawed Kohestani said it is imperative for Afghanistan to maintain a political balance in its relations with the international community to avoid a political deadlock.

Building bridges

Some analysts also believe the request was suspended to put to rest Pakistan’s concerns regarding India’s growing influence in the Afghan government. At this stage, Pakistan’s security officials are upbeat about stronger military-to-military relations.

With time, relations between the two countries have improved significantly. Pakistan’s military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa appreciated Kabul’s cooperation with Islamabad following the Army Public School massacre in December 2014. He also confirmed Afghan authorities had arrested six suspects on the basis of intelligence provided by Pakistan.

Moreover, the request for arms was suspended a few days after President Ghani sent a group of six army cadets to a military academy in Abbotabad. Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had also offered equipment to Afghanistan when he met Ghani in November 2014. Kabul has yet to decide whether it wants to seek heavy weapons from Pakistan.

Since Afghanistan has gone the extra mile to strengthen security cooperation with Pakistan, it is bound to expect a similar degree of cooperation from the latter. At this stage, Kabul wants Islamabad to take practical steps to negotiate with the Taliban.

There are also looming fears in Afghanistan that the Taliban will launch a spring offensive in April. Afghan forces could face severe challenges this year as they do not have as many foreign troops to tackle the crisis. At this juncture, Pakistan could step in to lend a helping hand to its neighbour.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Anjaan
    Feb 14, 2015 - 4:21AM

    What ever brings peace to Afghanistan, the people of India are all for it … !!Recommend

  • w
    Feb 14, 2015 - 6:36AM

    If Ghani has a strategy to balance Pakistan and make them feel comfortable so they stop attacking Indians and Americans in Afghanistan, then why not?

    Maybe Ghani is a better diplomat than Karzai was. Maybe Ghani will bring in stability and peace to Afghanistan.

    Obviously, India is better off investing 2 billion in India if anyone else can fill the gap without any meddling.Recommend

  • fawad
    Feb 14, 2015 - 8:01AM

    It is amazing that Pakistan feels threatened by Indian investment in Afghanistan for civil purpose. India genuinely wants to help them, but Pakistan can’t let other country get free help, as it gets all the aid after it serves other countries, never free.Recommend

  • Lalit
    Feb 14, 2015 - 9:09AM

    A misguiding headline….actually it is India who has turned down Af demand of heavy weaponry.supplying heavy weaponry is against Indian foreign policies.Recommend

  • Assad
    Feb 14, 2015 - 10:28AM

    @Lalit:
    You have to have heavy weapons in the first place to give them to another country….Recommend

  • Xoxo
    Feb 14, 2015 - 10:54AM

    @Assad:

    You are right, unlike Pakistan India has neither technology, not scientist to build anything of significance.

    Pakistan Zindabad. Recommend

  • Abdullah khan
    Feb 14, 2015 - 12:00PM

    While the notion that India would have supplied arms to Afghanistan seems bizaar as India is an arms importer itself. However it seems encouraging that Afghanistan is employing a sensible and balanced foreign policy as the future of a developed Afghanistan depends on it not becoming a battleground for foreign interests.Recommend

  • Khattak
    Feb 14, 2015 - 12:35PM

    Afghanistan will need war planes, helicopters, tanks & heavy artillery to defend against Taliban onslaught this summer. The casualty rate of ANSF is so high that it is not sustainable. Defending only with small arms against a determined gorilla group acting like terrorist can only be advised by some one like Shahnawaz Tani who defected his country after bombing a friendly country embassy during Dr. Najib presidency. Ghani will have to think twice to reject any help. Social & Main Stream Afghan Media is already raising their fingers & it can boil up to the point where it will be impossible for Ghani to remain in presidency. Recommend

  • roarwali
    Feb 14, 2015 - 1:17PM

    @Anjaan: Happy to see such comment. I hope the people of India would be happy but not the Govt. Sorry but it’s a harsh truth. Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    Feb 14, 2015 - 3:25PM

    @roarwali: Who says you a lying, but a stable and peacefull Pakistan and Afganistan is utmost necessary for develoment of Indian economy.Recommend

  • objective observer
    Feb 14, 2015 - 7:44PM

    Afghanistan intends on having productive relations with all its neighbors. Leave Afghanistan out of your squabbles.Recommend

  • Akbar Khan Mohamadzai
    Feb 14, 2015 - 8:07PM

    Ghani knows Afghanistan is alone and helpless before Pakistan, and so he has openly prostrated flat before GHQ ‘Pindi.

    No leader of Afghanistan has been so servile to Pakistan as Ghani.

    The question is whether ‘Pindi will allow its Afghan servant to continue as President, or bring in a regime change with Taliban directly in charge.Recommend

  • A Mateen
    Feb 15, 2015 - 1:31PM

    In modern world, it is necessary to maintain balance in ties with all states. Recommend

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