Hamid Karzai’s military wishlist leaves India worried: Reports

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to push through the "wish list" request for military hardware in his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his upcoming visit has left India worried.

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2013, 06:05 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to push through the "wish list" request for military hardware in his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his upcoming visit has left India worried, say reports.

Karzai is arriving here Thursday on his 14th visit to India will also apprise PM of tensions with the US over inking a key security agreement.

As per reports, India would "have to take a call" during Karzai`s visit on the equipment to supply to Afghanistan and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is likely to have the final word in the matter. This would also depend on India`s "surplus capacity" of military hardware.

In the case of military equipment based on licences from other countries, India will have to get clearance from the suppliers, the source added.

Afghan Ambassador Shaida M Abdali, briefing newspersons ahead of Karzai`s third visit in a year to India, indicated that matters were in progress over the wish list that is believed to include battle tanks, field guns, mortars, military aircraft and trucks -- needed for the Afghan security forces. The Afghan president comes at the invitation of the Pune-based Symbiosis Institute.

To a question on the wish list that Karzai had handed over to India during his last trip to India in May, the ambassador said that "discussions in pursuit of our list is an ongoing process".

Abdali said technical teams from both countries are "meeting regularly, the list is being looked at".

"India has said it will do everything available within the limits they have, and we have full respect," he added.

Afghanistan`s request for military hardware comes ahead of the 2014 drawdown of international forces, that would leave the Afghan forces in sole command of the country`s security situation.

India and Afghanistan have a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) in place since 2011, under which India has been providing military training to Afghan military officers and non-lethal aid.

Abdali added that India and Afghanistan "have to protect our shared national interests... It is imperative to cooperative in all areas, including in defence, and expedite the process under the Strategic Partnership Agreement, including our request for expansion in cooperation in equipment".

Abdali emphasised that his country`s relations with India would remain unaffected irrespective of who heads the nation after the presidential elections in April next year when Karzai is to step down after more than a decade at the helm.

"Regardless of who rules, the deep ties will remain the same and will be strengthened," he said.

During talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, Karzai would apprise him of progress on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) negotiations with the US as well as reconciliation efforts with the Taliban.

The BSA would mandate the size and shape of the US military presence in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014.

Karzai has refused to sign the BSA unless his conditions are met. They include the release of all Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and an end to military operations involving Afghan homes.

Afghanistan is also in talks with India and Russia over reviving a Soviet-era military hardware maintenance facility near Kabul, the ambassador informed.

A lot of Russian armaments are still in Afghanistan from the time when Soviet troops were in Afghanistan and the maintenance facility would be maintained by Indian and Russian experts, the ambassador added.

Abdali also said that 350 Afghan army officers are currently undergoing training in India, while 1,400 have been trained so far since 2003.

Afghan army officers are trained at the National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakvasla, the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun and the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai.

With IANS Inputs