The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that India’s military ties with Afghanistan will be directed by the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) of 2011.
This statement has come ahead of the visit of Afghanistan’s Army Chief General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai to India next week. The announcement put out by MEA, referring to the SPA, is significant as speculations are rife over Afghanistan’s probable request for military assistance from India.
The SPA agreement says: “India agrees to assist in the training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces.”
It basically says that if asked, India would continue or even enhance the already established military support that it has provided to Afghanistan. Until now, India has contributed in various capacities to the Afghan army, including, 4 four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Afghanistan; four MI-35s repaired and refurbished by Belarus, and three Cheetah helicopters.
The speculation has arisen after the new developments in Afghanistan have surfaced. Ever since America’s troop call-back, the Taliban has started dominating and controlling various sectors in Afghanistan. To fight the power of the Taliban, the ANDSF needs more superior airpower. However, India’s ability to help in ramping up Afghan air capacity is limited.
“Should we not get to a stage in the peace process with the Taliban, then maybe a time (will come) where we would be seeking India’s military assistance,” Farid Mamundzay, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, recently told NDTV.
“India supports the government and the people of Afghanistan in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future where the interest of all sections of Afghan society are protected,” the MEA spokesperson said on Thursday.