Atmar due in Delhi; Kabul may get attack helicopters
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok) President Ashraf Ghani’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Hanif Atmar, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai, will visit New Delhi later this week for talks with his Indian counterpart.
During the two-day visit (Nov 7-8), signalling Kabul’s willingness to re-engage with New Delhi, the transfer of four Russian-made Mi-25 helicopters would come under discussion, two leading Indian newspapers reported on Wednesday.
“This will be the first offensive weaponry given to Afghanistan, which has so far been the recipient of only jeeps, three transport ‘Cheetal’ helicopters and military training from India,” The Hindu said.
Atmar was invited to visit Delhi by Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during a telephone conversation 10 days back, according to the daily, which suggested the visiting NSA might meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other officials.
A strong supporter of ex-president Hamid Karzai, India has been reluctant to enhance its strategic partnership with Afghanistan after the Ghani administration’s tilt toward Pakistan, a botched intelligence-sharing deal between the intelligence services of the neighbouring nations.
But the ISI-NDS memorandum of understanding has since run into snag as a result of strong opposition from Afghan leaders and lawmakers. Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban also collapsed after the disclosure of Mullah Omar’s death.
An unnamed senior official told The Hindu about the visit by Atmar and Hikmat Karzai “Our conversations will be about taking forward the process of close consultations agreed to by Prime Minister Modi and President Ghani, who met twice this year.”
Meanwhile, The Times of India reported the Ghani government desired to re-engage with India after their outreach to Pakistan ended in failure. It said Delhi was willing to reaffirm its commitment to Afghanistan.
The choppers are not the MI-35 that Afghanistan had demanded. Still, the supply of the helicopters could hit a raw nerve I Pakistan, which recently assured the US of helping to stabilise Afghanistan if India's presence was minimised.
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