Afghanistan looks to India for more arms

NEW DELHI • India is set to deliver more arms to Afghanistan to help it fight Islamist militants, Kabul's envoy to New Delhi said, even if Pakistan is wary of closer military cooperation between countries lying to its east and west.

India has provided a little over US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) in economic assistance to Afghanistan in the last 15 years, but has been more measured in providing weapons in order to avoid a backlash from Pakistan, which sees Afghanistan as its area of influence.

Last December, after years of dragging its feet, New Delhi announced the supply of four attack helicopters - India's first transfer of lethal equipment to the government in Kabul since the hardline Islamist Taleban movement was toppled.

Kabul immediately deployed three of the Russian Mi-25 attack helicopters to go after insurgents, and the fourth will be inducted in the next few weeks.

Mr Shaida Mohammad Abdali, the Afghan ambassador to India, said regional security was deteriorating and Afghan national forces were in dire need of military supplies to tackle the Taleban, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other militant groups.

A Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman said the government did not comment on bilateral ties. But he warned against attempts to destabilise Pakistan, which, like its arch-rival India, has a nuclear arsenal.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Afghanistan looks to India for more arms'. Print Edition | Subscribe