Afghan Army chief postpones visit to India because of Taliban offensive
Afghan Army chief General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai has postponed a visit to India this week because of the offensive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Afghan embassy said on Monday.
The visit, though scheduled several months ago, would have coincided with a trip to New Delhi by US secretary of state Antony Blinken. Ahmadzai, who was appointed last month as part of a shake-up of the higher echelons of Afghanistan’s security set-up, was to have been in India during July 27-30.
The visit was postponed because of the “intensity of the war and Taliban’s increased assault and offensive” in Afghanistan, the Afghan embassy said without giving details.
Ahmadzai was scheduled to hold talks with his Indian counterpart, General MM Naravane, and meet National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and other top security officials. He was also scheduled to travel to Pune to meet Afghan cadets being trained at various institutions.
The visit was to have provided an opportunity for the two sides to hold consultations on the security situation in Afghanistan against the backdrop of a campaign by the Taliban to capture territory and crucial border crossings with other countries.
Intense fighting has been reported from various parts of Afghanistan as Afghan forces attempt to take back districts and key centres captured by the Taliban in a campaign that has coincided with the speedy drawdown of US and NATO forces. The US recently conducted air strikes to slow down the advance of the Taliban.
India plays a key role in training Afghan military personnel – some 300 cadets are currently training in the country – and is also helping in the medical treatment of injured Afghan military personnel, with a number of them being treated in hospitals across the country.
For India, a key security concern is the presence in Afghanistan of more than 7,000 Pakistani terrorists from groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. These fighters are fighting alongside the Taliban in many areas.