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Foreign minister S. Jaishankar holds a meeting with special US representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in New York. (Photo:: Twitter@drsjaishankar)
Foreign minister S. Jaishankar holds a meeting with special US representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in New York. (Photo:: Twitter@drsjaishankar)

No inclination from Delhi to boost defence ties with Kabul: Report

  • Trump has encouraged India to play a greater role in developing Afghanistan, the US Congressional report said
  • The Indian view is that Pakistan is keen to have a government friendly to its interests in Kabul, one that it can fall back on in times of war with India—the so-called strategic depth

NEW DELHI : India, the largest regional contributor to Afghan reconstruction, has not shown any inclination to pursue a deeper defence relationship with Kabul, a US Congressional report has said.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, titled Afghanistan: Background and US Policy In Brie’, was dated 19 September and compiled ahead of US President Donald Trump’s meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan premier Imran Khan. Trump met Khan on 23 September in New York and was to meet Modi on Tuesday.

On Monday, foreign minister S. Jaishankar met Special US Representative on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad in New York.

“India has been the largest regional contributor to Afghan reconstruction, but New Delhi has not shown an inclination to pursue a deeper defence relationship with Kabul," said the report by CRS, an independent research wing of the US Congress that prepares reports to help lawmakers take informed decisions.

The report said Trump has encouraged India to play a greater role in Afghanistan’s economic development. “This, along with other administrative messaging, has compounded Pakistani concerns over Indian activity in Afghanistan," it said.

The Indian view is that Pakistan is keen to have a government friendly to its interests in Kabul, one that it can fall back on in times of war with India—the so-called strategic depth. Towards this end, Islamabad has been supporting the Taliban, which has been engaged in a war with the US-backed government in Kabul, New Delhi said. India, which has pledged $3.1 billion since 2001, mainly for development and reconstruction projects, would like to see an administration that is not inimical to its interests in Afghanistan.

New Delhi has provided Afghanistan with four military attack helicopters and trained some of its military officers at its facilities in India but has refused to commit troops to Afghanistan. This is a longstanding Indian position based on the principle of non-intervention.

“Pakistan’s security establishment, fearful of strategic encirclement by India, apparently continues to view the Afghan Taliban as a relatively friendly and reliably anti-India element in Afghanistan," the CRS report said.

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