The Taliban is urging India to stop giving lethal military equipment to the Afghan government, condemning it as a “clear hostility” towards the war-torn nation.
In its first public reaction to New Delhi’s growing military cooperation with Kabul, the Islamist insurgency alleged Indian aircraft and equipment are being used to kill Afghans and destroy their homes as well as other civilian infrastructure.
“The Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] condemns this action with the strongest of terms,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for the Taliban, in a statement issued Sunday.
Attack helicopters provided
India recently transferred four Russian-made Mi-25 attack helicopters to boost the Afghan Air Force’s ability to assist ground troops fighting Taliban insurgents, and it trains hundreds of Afghan soldiers each year in its military academy.
“We call on India to stop exporting items of killing and destruction to Afghanistan and to stop efforts of prolonging the lifespan of this corrupt regime with its military aid,” Mujahid added.
He accused Afghan forces of using Indian attack helicopters to destroy a key bridge during recent fighting in the volatile northern Kunduz province.
“This cannot be interpreted as anything other than enmity with the Afghans and shall arouse hatred of the people of Afghanistan,” asserted the Taliban spokesman.
Call for more assistance
Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson traveled to New Delhi last month to urge Indian officials there to enhance military aid to Kabul.
Head of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office, in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 27, 2016.
“I know that they [Afghan authorities] have asked for more of these helicopters. There is an immediate need for more. When these aircraft come in, they immediately get into the fight,” Nicholson told reporters during his August 10 visit.
Pakistan military’s intelligence agency
U.S., Afghan and Indian officials allege the Pakistan military’s intelligence agency covertly supports the Taliban insurgency and allows it use sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to plot attacks in Afghanistan, charges Islamabad rejects.
Afghan army chief General Quadam Shah Shahim visited India last week to seek enhanced bilateral defense ties besides asking for more military equipment, particularly Mi-25 helicopters.
India has contributed $2 billion in economic assistance for reconstruction projects in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban from power in 2001.