News / Asia

Karzai Seeks Indian Military Aid Amid Tensions with Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, May 4, 2013.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, May 4, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to discuss potential arms deals with Indian officials during a trip to New Delhi this week, officials said, at a time when tensions are running high on Afghanistan's disputed border with Pakistan.

Kabul's overtures to New Delhi are likely to rile Islamabad where a new government led by two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif is set to take office soon, promising improved ties with India.

Pakistan has long resisted Indian involvement in Afghanistan, seeing it as a plan to encircle it, and any fresh wrangling between the rivals would add to Afghanistan's problems as the Western military withdrawal draws near.

Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi said the Afghan leader would discuss in New Delhi the flare-up on the Durand Line, the colonial-era border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to ways to strengthen Afghan security institutions.

"Afghanistan has already agreed and signed a strategic pact with India and based on that agreement, India assists Afghanistan on several grounds, including the military sector," Faizi said.

"In order to strengthen Afghan security forces, we will ask India to help us with military needs and shortages," he said.

India has been training a limited number of Afghan military officers for years at its military institutions, but provided little weapons assistance except for some vehicles.

In 2011 New Delhi signed a strategic partnership agreement with Kabul, allowing the two sides to expand training as Afghan forces prepare to takeover security from foreign troops at the end of 2014.

An Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said New Delhi's cooperation with Afghanistan was focused on development projects but security was also an important aspect given the challenges it faced.

"While we are striving to realize this vision of an economically viable Afghanistan... we have no illusions that we can ignore the political and security issues that stand in the way of realizing that vision," said Syed Akbaruddin.

He added the question of equipping Afghan forces was best discussed through the strategic partnership agreement and that a meeting would be held later this year to discuss security and political matters.

Tensions with Pakistan

Pakistan also proposed a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and offered military training to the Afghanistan national army, but Kabul has been cool to the idea.

Earlier this month border guards from the two countries, which have blamed each other for providing sanctuary to militant groups, clashed at their disputed border on the Durand Line.

Afghanistan said a policeman was killed, and accused Pakistan of using heavy artillery and tanks during the fighting along Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province. It added several Afghan border posts were destroyed.

Pakistan said the clashes were the result of unprovoked Afghan action.

Afghan security forces have since asked for better equipment to deal with the border threat. An official said that during the trip to New Delhi the Afghan delegation would explore the possibility of equipping the army with Indian artillery.

A NATO diplomat in Kabul said Afghanistan was also seeking to build up its air force and had sought aircraft to beef up border defenses.

"The Afghans are taking the border problem very seriously. They have asked us for equipment... emotions are very high," the diplomat said.

The fresh strains in Pakistan's ties with Afghanistan come at a time when hopes for an improvement in its relations with India have risen following the election of the business-friendly Sharif.

Sharif has said that the mistrust that has long dogged relations with India over a range of issues including Afghanistan must be tackled. Islamabad says India's expanding role in Afghanistan is aimed at destabilizing it from the rear, a charge New Delhi denies.

A Pakistan defense analyst and retired Brigadier Shaukat Qadir didn't see any souring of relations between Pakistan and India because of the likely arms deal between Afghanistan and India.

"This is nothing new," he said. "The two countries have been engaged in similar deals for a long time."

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid