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India to bolster Afghan army with financial aid

Monday, 19 May 2014 - 7:07am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

In view of the draw down of US-led forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, New Delhi has decided to provide 'financial assistance' to Afghanistan to fulfil its military requirements.

The Congress-led UPA which took the crucial decision before it was voted out of power felt that arming Afghanistan is a strategic necessity for India. However, the move will keep Pakistan interested as it is against any kind of involvement by India in Afghanistan. A government source told dna that the cabinet committee on security headed by former PM Manmohan Singh agreed to pay for the weaponry which Afghanistan's national army would need after the departure of Nato forces. "The CCS has agreed to give financial aid to Afghanistan so that its army can procure weapons it needs," said a government official.

Kabul had been asking for lethal weapons from India for a long time, but Delhi refused to agree to the demand because of licensing issues which prohibit supply of technology to other nations.

During his previous visits to Delhi, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai had come up with a 'wish list' of military hardware, including battle tanks, field guns, mortars, military aircraft and trucks, which the Afghan security forces needed. Afghanistan has asked for 150 battle tanks, field guns, Howitzers and one squadron of attack helicopters. After Karzai's visit last year, India agreed to supply two India-made multi-role Cheetah helicopters to Afghanistan.

Sources said Afghanistan will buy Russian arms such as light artillery and mortars because its army prefers Russian weapons compared to western ones. However, defence experts suspect that such lethal weapons may end up with the Taliban. A similar thing had happened when the Soviet forces left Afghanistan in 1989 and the Taliban used the weapons left behind by them in civil wars.

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

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