With Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai coming next week,Afghan ambassador to India Shaida M Abdali on Thursday made a strong pitch for deepening defence cooperation and urged for arms supplies to Kabul from New Delhi.
So far,India has been cautious in keeping the defence cooperation low key and focussed on training Afghan police and security forces rather than supplying weapons or sending Indian troops.
The Biggest challenge for us is security. In the context of partnership agreement with India,we have done a lot. The training of army and police is a necessity. But given the time we are in right now,we are required to go beyond,we are required to sit down and look at the common cause which is self-defence…It is critically important that the two countries cooperate on deeper and more substantial issues beyond training. Training is most welcome. Other assistance in small stages is most welcome… but we would like to go beyond the current trend of cooperation between the two countries in the defence sector, Abdali said.
Asked as to what kind of defence assistance Afghanistan was looking at,he said,The partnership agreement does not distinguish between lethal and non-lethal. We have talked about security and defence cooperation (in the Strategic Partnership Agreement),this does not exclude lethal and non-lethal assistance to Afghanistan. We are very happy with the assistance from India in the last few years,but still there is scope to do more for a common cause of a peaceful and secure Afghanistan and a peaceful and secure India beyond 2014, he said.
Karzai will visit India on May 20-22 during which he will apprise the Indian leadership of the recent developments in the war-torn country. The two sides will discuss cooperation at a critical time for Afghanistan,which is witnessing the withdrawal of NATO combat troops,the envoy said.
Asserting India is dispositioned to play a leading role in the entire region for peace and economic development,Abdali made a strong pitch for enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries.