Seemingly wary of complicating the fragile Afghan security situation, India is unlikely to directly supply military equipment, including helicopters and ammunition, to Kabul despite President Hamid Karzai re-submitting the hardware list to the Manmohan Singh government earlier this week.
While South Block is tight-lipped about the contents of the wish list, official sources said President Karzai wanted India to supply Russian Mi-17 helicopters along with spare parts, 105mm artillery guns, 81mm mortars, assault rifles and assorted ammunition for the Afghan army. “The Afghanistan president has regurgitated an old wish list. India is cagey about supplying hardware to Kabul as the move could be used by Islamabad as an excuse to walk out of the war on terror waged across the Durand Line and ratchet up tensions in Afghanistan through Pakistan-based terrorist groups,” said a senior official.
With the US pulling out troops from Afghanistan next year, India wants to pre-empt any possibility of its own military hardware being used against the Afghan people at a later date despite New Delhi and Kabul being all-round strategic partners since 2011. Sensitive to its friendly image in Afghanistan, India has only revived the military hospital at Farakhor across the Amu Darya in Tajikistan for treating injured Afghan soldiers and civilians.
“The Indo-Afghan military cooperation is confined to training a limited number of troops each year. The primary focus of ties is on infrastructure development, medical support and education,” said an official.
However, India is reaching out to all ethnic factions, including Pashtuns, in Afghanistan to ensure that the Pakistan-based terrorist groups do not get a safe haven across the Durand Line. This is being done after the US and Afghan intelligence reports indicated that groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba had moved into Kunar and Nuristan provinces across the Pakistan border.