All the candidates fighting the Afghan presidential polls are "close friends of India" and New Delhi will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan security forces as required, S.K. Lambah, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, said on Friday.
Addressing an event while releasing the "Afghanistan Task Force Report: What India Can Do", Lambah said that "India will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in accordance with Afghan requests and priorities".
Enumerating India's development aid in Afghanistan, Lambah said New Delhi has completed the 218-km Delaram-Zaranj Highway, a 220 MW power plant, and is working to complete the Salma dam by 2015. Lambah said numerous surveys and opinion polls in Afghanistan have depicted India as a "most suitable and a reliable friend" and added that all the candidates for the presidential elections are for "close and friendly relations with India".
The veteran diplomat said that "Afghans believe they can succeed and will with international help.. We must guard against the predictions of impending doom."
He said India is working with Afghanistan for its integration with the regional economy since 2002. "I hope the promised development of Chahbahar port through cooperation between India and Iran is also realized soon," Lambah added.
He observed that India had reached out to all of Afghanistan's neighbours and other stakeholders in Afghanistan for a constructive engagement that places Afghan interests at the centre of efforts. "India remained engaged with the US and continued to seek similar cooperation with Pakistan on Afghanistan," he added.
The report is jointly prepared by Ananta Aspen Centre and the Delhi Policy Group.
Radha Kumar of Delhi Policy Group said the elections that would see a new government take over would be "relatively free and fair and inclusive and with considerable transparency.. We hope for a smooth political transition in which a new government can take part."
The elections are taking place in the backdrop of the Taliban violence and threat to disrupt the polls.
Ashraf Haidari, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Afghan embassy here, said with concerns over security high, Kabul has requested New Delhi to "fill the gapsÂ… in the best interest of India and Afghanistan". He also said Afghanistan looks forward to good relations between Pakistan and India as it would be beneficial for his country
The report posits that India has good reason to be concerned about the post-2014 period as Indian security was severely threatened by factions in Afghanistan and from across the border in Pakistan since the late 1990s and could be threatened once again. This is an eventuality that the Indian government must seek to prevent. The report maintains that India needs to step up its political, diplomatic, and security relations with Afghanistan, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
The report says that the Afghan National Security Forces are capable of dealing with the security threats but are underequipped and underfinanced. They require appropriate and adequate personnel and equipment to be able to achieve their objectives of safeguarding Afghanistan's people and territory and defending the country's borders.