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India on Thursday said it supported the government and the people of Afghanistan in realizing their goal to ensure a peace, stable and democratic country.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi made the remarks when asked if India would support the Ashraf Ghani government with military hardware in the face of fierce fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces.

“India Afghanistan bilateral relations are guided by the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two sides in October 2011," Bagchi said. So far India has trained Afghan military personnel and gifted four military helicopters to the Afghan government as per the terms of the accord. New Delhi has not sent troops to Afghanistan during the two decade long stay by US-led international troops given that groups within the Pakistan-backed Taliban like the Haqqani network have in the past targeted Indian consulates as well as the Indian embassy in Kabul.

“As a contiguous neighbour, India supports the Government and the people of Afghanistan in realizing their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future where the interest of all sections of Afghan society including women and minorities are protected," Bagchi said.

“At the Afghanistan Conference 2020 held in Geneva to reaffirm the commitment of international community towards Afghanistan, EAM (External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar) emphasized India’s long term commitment to the development of Afghanistan," he added.

Afghan envoy to India Farid Mamundzay has said that Afghanistan would expect military support from countries like the US and India should the pressure mount on Kabul.

The Taliban on its part has warned that it expects New Delhi to stay neutral – ie not support Kabul with lethal military hardware that will be seen to be used against fellow Afghans.

On the abduction and assault on the daughter of the Afghan envoy to Pakistan, Silsila Alikhel by unknown people earlier this week in Islamabad, Bagchi described the incident as “shocking."

“This involves two other countries namely Afghanistan and Pakistan, and usually we would not comment on it. However, since the Interior Minister of Pakistan has dragged India into it, I would only like to say that even by their standards, Pakistan’s denial of the victim’s account is stooping to a new low," Bagchi said. He was referring to reported remarks by Pakistan interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed earlier this week, accusing Afghanistan and India of "distorting" the facts related to the kidnapping. Media reports quoted Rashid as saying that the incident was part of a series of attempts to defame and destabilise Pakistan.

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