x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

India will do all in its power to promote Afghan stability

India said yesterday it will do all within its means to promote stability in Afghanistan after visiting president Hamid Karzai said he had given a military "wishlist" to the Indian government.

NEW DELHI // India said yesterday it will do all within its means to promote stability in Afghanistan after visiting president Hamid Karzai said he had given a military "wishlist" to the Indian government.

"We have a wish list that we have put before the government of India," Mr Karzai told reporters in New Delhi, adding it was up to the Indian leadership to decide how much help it was willing to extend to Kabul.

India's foreign ministry refused to detail what the "wishlist" contained but local media reports said it included light and heavy artillery, aircraft and small arms and ammunitions.

"The leaders agreed that both countries will work together and will do all within their means to promote stability and security in Afghanistan," said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

Mr Karzai's comments came after his office said last week that he would ask for "all kinds of assistance from India to strengthen our military and security institutions" during the high-level talks in the Indian capital.

Mr Karzai held closed-door talks late Tuesday with prime minister Manmohan Singh after a separate meeting with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee on his two-day trip which ended on Wednesday.

India has been training a limited number of Afghan military officers for years at its military institutions, but has provided little weapons assistance except for some vehicles.

India's support for Mr Karzai is a reflection of its desire to ensure that the departure of the United States and other foreign forces in 2014 does not lead to the return of the radical Islamist Taliban to power in Kabul, analysts say.

In 2011, India and Afghanistan began a "strategic partnership" to deepen security and economic ties. But Indian activity in Afghanistan has sparked unease in neighbouring rival Pakistan which fears losing influence in Kabul.

The former Taliban regime was allied with Pakistan and gave refuge to anti-Indian Islamist extremists.

A statement from Mr Karzai's office in Kabul yesterday sought to underline its neighbourly relations with both India and Pakistan while ruling out inviting Indian troops to the country after the US pullout.

"Afghanistan is a sovereign country and... has the right to choose its own friends. Pakistan is a neighbour, it is a close neighbour and the people of Pakistan have given Afghans refuge for 30 years," the statement said.

"India is a traditional friend and ally, particularly so over the last 10 years," the Afghan statement added.

*Agence France-Presse