India’s positive response to Karzai’s military aid demand
Afghan President Hamid Karzai today expressed satisfaction over India’s response to his demand for stepping up military aid
New Delhi: Afghan President Hamid Karzai today expressed satisfaction over India’s response to his demand for stepping up military aid, saying the “facts” on such supplies were much better than “what is known” amidst indication that the government was considering the request.
In an interaction with media here, Karzai said a host of crucial issues including supply of military equipment by India, Afghanistan’s conditions in signing bilateral security pact (BSA) with the US ahead of withdrawal of NATO forces and the peace process were discussed extensively during his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday.
The Afghan President, on a four-day visit here, said he was “satisfied” with the discussions on training as well as supply of military equipment from India to his country to strengthen the security forces of Afghanistan.
The discussions were “very productive and resulted in satisfaction for the Afghan side,” he said refusing to elaborate further.
Asked specifically about whether New Delhi was reluctant about supply of military hardware to Afghanistan, he said India has been “conducting itself very wisely” and at the same time was not “shying away” from assisting his country.
“India is also not shying away from providing assistance to Afghanistan and I can tell you that in terms of India’s support to Afghanistan in military equipment and training the facts are lot better then what you hear in the press,” he said.
“India wants to help us…India wants to have a region free of tension and that’s exactly what Afghanistan wants. I have satisfaction over the outcome (of the meeting with Singh),” he said.
Karzai had meetings with top leadership here including Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
When pressed further on the issue of supply of military equipment by India, he only said, “As far as military hardware is concerned, Afghanistan needs them and India and other countries are helping.”
Talking about the Afghan-US Bilateral Security Agreement, Karzai said he had a detailed discussion with Singh about Afghanistan’s position on the issue and the Indian Prime Minister understood it.
“I informed the Prime Minister the view of Afghanistan in this (BSA) regard. I was happy to see that India understands Afghanistan’s need for the BSA and also India understood why Afghanistan was taking some very cautious steps towards signing this agreement,” Karzai said.
The Afghan President has refused to ink the proposed pact demanding that the US must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and demonstrate its commitment to peace talks before he would sign the agreement.
“Afghanistan and India have deep strategic dialogue on all issues. My meeting yesterday with the Prime Minister was indeed an in depth dialogue on the BSA and on Afghanistan’s conditions for signing it. Of course India believes that having continued NATO presence in Afghanistan in limited way and limited numbers beyond 2014 is good for Afghanistan,” Karzai said.
He said people of Afghanistan have given approval to the BSA but at the same time they do not want bombing and attack on Afghan homes by the NATO forces and the US must ensure respect of the sentiments of people of his country.
“When certain US officials tell you that if you do not give us BSA, your country will go to civil war that’s a threat,” he said, criticizing the US on the issue.
Asked about Pakistan’s role in the peace process, Karzai said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised his cooperation and he did not have any doubt about his sincerity. “I have confidence in sincerity of Sharif.”
Severely critical of functioning of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, Karzai said the policy of “giving billions of dollars” and thinking of having the “right” to attack Afghan homes will not be acceptable to him.
Karzai said he would like the US to “respect Afghan homes just like they respect their own homes. In pursuit of a bad person, the US does not bomb its homes.”
Giving an example of attacks by US forces in Afghanistan, he said recently they bombed a house in a remote part of the country to catch a suspected Taliban militant in which a two-year-old boy was killed and his mother was critically injured.
“When Mr Obama writes to me that the forces would respect the homes, it should be proved. It’s not been proven yet,” he said.
Asked about talks with various militant outfits in the peace process, Karzai said he was against involving those having links with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups having links with foreign terror groups.
On projects involving India, he said he wants “full speed” in implementation of those projects. He said his government was adopting a cautious approach so far as its mineral resources are concerned to ensure that they do not become “source of problems”.
He also identified Chabahar as an important project among India, Iran and Afghanistan. The transit agreement involves India, Iran and Afghanistan.
India had held discussions with Iran on the Chabahar port during External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Tehran in May.