India to train Afghan army soldiers
NEW DELHI (PAN): In a major step forward in Kabul-Delhi defence cooperation, India will train and equip Afghan National Army soldiers under a strategic partnership treaty signed between the two nations, media reports said on Wednesday.
The NDTV news channel and The Hindu newspaper said India had agreed to train the Afghan army. So far only individual officers of the Afghan military attended courses in Indian defence institutions.
The Hindu report said a "proposal to train the Afghan National Security Forces was included in the first-ever Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) signed on Tuesday".
Defence experts say the move has great significance vis-a-vis the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan and the strained relations between the two in the wake of recent terror attacks in Kabul, blamed on groups enjoying the backing of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
India is also worried over the drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan, leaving the nation insecure. After the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama decided to pull out 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011, followed by another 20,000 by the summer of 2012 and complete the process by 2014.
Concerned about Pakistan's role, India supports a peace process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and will go all out to ensure that the war-hit country can independently take care of its security.
The strategic treaty creates an institutional framework for future cooperation in the fields of politics, security, trade, economy, capacity building, and education, social, cultural and people-to-people relations.
Karzai's visit, his second to India this year and the first after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's landmark Kabul trip in May 2011, carries forward the high-level engagement between the two countries.
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