Pakistan expressed anger over the US’ effort to include India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction project in 2017. Islamabad also asked Kabul to maintain a ‘safe’ distance with New Delhi. However, the war-ravaged South Asian nation ignored Pakistan’s ‘advice’ (read threat) and decided to maintain ‘friendly’ ties with India. Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali has informed the media that his country will always maintain close ties with New Delhi.
The Ashraf Ghani administration in Kabul recently made some proposals to the Taliban for restoring peace. At the same time, Kabul started holding bilateral talks with Islamabad to normalise the situation. The Afghan ambassador to India strongly criticised Pakistan for not co-operating with the Ghani government. He claimed that Pakistan was disrupting the export of goods from India to Afghanistan through the Wagah border. That’s why Afghanistan plans to concentrate on alternate trade routes and to reduce one-third of their commercial dependence on Pakistan, stressed Abdali.
Shaida Mohammad Abdali
Meanwhile, the envoy thanked India for developing the Chabahar port in Iran, saying that India could easily send goods to Afghanistan through this port. According to Abdali, US President Donald Trump and his Western allies are giving importance to New Delhi because of Kabul’s effort to portray India as its ‘all-weather’ friend.
The Afghan envoy further welcomed India’s decision to bolster defence ties with his country. He explained that there are three aspects of the defence strategy for Afghanistan prepared by the US. Those are: to boost the strength of the Afghan Air Force, to double the Special Operational Force and to reform the defence sector. Kabul needs New Delhi’s help in implementing the strategy, insisted Abdali. He told the Indian media that New Delhi would underwrite the supply and delivery of four refurbished Russian-built Mil Mi-24 assault helicopters by Belarus to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) over the next few months.
It is to be noted that a New Delhi-based defence management consultancy – Security Risks Asia – recently confirmed the news, with its Director Rahul Bhonsle saying: “The Indian government has agreed to source these helicopters from Belarus, as Russia remains under international sanctions due to its military action in Ukraine in 2014.”
Pak PM Abbasi & Afghan President Ghani
The ambassador further said that President Ghani recently held a meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss various bilateral issues. During their meeting, the president said he was well aware of the fact that Pakistan was supplying ‘terror’ to Afghanistan. He also urged Islamabad not to back the Taliban. Referring to Pakistan, Abdali said: “Unless we see results on the ground, we can’t say that they are supportive. We continue to see violations across the border.”
As far as India-Afghanistan ties are concerned, the envoy stressed: “We have no designs on or bad feelings for any country, but a sovereign right to be friendly with countries that we have been historically tied to so strongly, including India…In no way Afghanistan will think of decreasing, let alone cutting off, ties with India. The relationship is not designed against anyone.”
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