India is unlikely to fulfil the long-pending ‘wish list’ of Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai for supplying lethal military hardware, sources have indicated.
Though the Cabinet Committee on Security will take a final call on the vexed issue this week, sources have indicated that the political leadership of the country does not want to disturb regional sensitivities, particularly with respect to Pakistan which is likely to view any such move with a great deal of suspicion.
Pakistan has always been against presence of Indian military in Afghanistan. It is believed that the current Pakistan establishment is already trying to exert pressure on the US to use its influence to prevent New Delhi from exploring military options in Afghanistan.
Karzai will arrive in New Delhi on Thursday on his 14th official visit to India during his tenure as Afghan president, and the key purpose of his visit would be to push for his ‘wish list’ of military hardware.
Indian military establishment also has apprehensions that lethal weapons that they supply to Afghan government might go in the hands of Taliban.
A top military commander told dna that in the present scenario, the future of Afghanistan is uncertain. “At this moment, no body can predict the future of Afghanistan, especially after the drawdown. Even the US has also not decided to leave Afghanistan completely. If we supply them lethal weapons, we never know, it might go in the hands of Taliban. I think, we should not be in a hurry to decide on the giving them such arms.”
Karzai’s ‘wish list’ that is believed to include battle tanks, field guns, mortars, military aircraft and trucks. To be specific, Afghanistan has asked for as many as 150 battle tanks of T 72, 120 (105 mm) field guns, a large number of 82mm mortars, one medium lift transport aircraft (AN-32), two squadrons of medium lift and attack helicopters and a large number of trucks.
“What should our stance be on the demands for military hardware for the Afghan National Army. On the one hand our acceptance to do so will increase the stakes and also strengthen military-to-military relationship with the ANA. On the other, it will lessen options for any rapprochement with the Taliban, should it ever come to power. I think India understands this well and will take a decision on the basis of our best interests,” said Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, former military secretary, who also served as commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps.