The Taliban militants group has expressed concerns regarding a possible delivery of further military equipment to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid issued a statement shortly after reports emerged regarding a possible visit by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to India to meet the country’s Prime Minister as the Indian administration is mulling to provide more military equipment to Afghan forces. [i]
Condemning the decision by N Delhi for the delivery of more weapons to Afghan forces, Mujahid said ”The Islamic Emirate condemns this action with the strongest of terms. Such acts will create distrust between the people of both countries and become a reason for further deterioration of relationship.”[ii] He futher added that such weapons will be used to kill Afghan people, destroy homes and public welfare structures; a good example of which was the destruction of Puli Alchin bridge in Kunduz by regime helicopters provided by the Indian government.[iii]
The statement by Taliban needs to be seen in light of the recent speech by Afghan Army Chief of Staff Gen Qadam Shah Shaheem while speaking during a ceremony to mark the 97th Independence Day of Afghanistan in Kabul wherein he said that ANDSF were turning Afghanistan into a graveyard of terrorism.[iv] The statement by Taliban is a reflection of their growing frustration borne out of fighting a losing war in face of ANDSF backed by efforts of NATO and other regional stakeholders.
India started the delivery of lethal weapons to the Afghan forces for the first time in Dec 2015 by delivering three Mi-25 gunship helicopters. On 21 Jun 2016, the Indian ambassador to the UN Mr Syed Akbaruddin during a Security Council debate on Afghanistan held out India’s assurance of full support for boosting Afghanistan’s defence capabilities to preserve its unity and territorial integrity.[v]
A stable Afghanistan is synonymous with strong ANDSF capable of undertaking sustained war against terrorism. However this shall take time and needs partnership of the world especially the countries in the immediate and extended neighbourhood. It is therefore an imperative for India, an important regional stakeholder which shares deep rooted relations with the Afghan people to seriously indulge in capacity and capability development of the Afghan Army alongside the international community. However, in the present geostrategic environment, India needs to seriously debate whether it should look at a more robust form of military engagement with Afghanistan in terms of provision of training teams, advice on field etc and not restrict itself to provision of only military equipment.
[i] Khampa Press Sep 04,2016
[iv] Khampa Press Aug 18,2016