India not shying away from providing military equipment: Karzai
New Delhi – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he were in full agreement on “all issues”, including the terms he has set for signing a security agreement with the US, and that India was “not shying away” from providing military equipment and training to his country.
Speaking to journalists a day after his separate one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee, Karzai said he had “in depth dialogue” with the prime minister on all issues, including Afghanistan’s conditions for signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US, which has led to tensions with Washington.
He said India is in favour of having continued US presence in Afghanistan “in a limited way” post the 2014 drawdown of international forces.
“We also discussed why we need to have the peace process (with the Taliban) launched and why we need to have com! plete protection of Afghan homes and Afghan people before it (! BSA) is signed, and the prime minister and I agreed on all issues,” said the Afghan president.
Karzai has stuck to his demand that the US stop barging into Afghan homes in their search for Taliban and that the peace process with the Taliban be officially launched as a precondition for signing the BSA which will allow the presence of around 15,000 US forces in nine bases across the country.
To a question on India’s response to his request for military equipment and training, the Afghan president said “the facts are much better than what appears in the press”.
He also said that India while helping his country with military equipment and training is keeping in mind the interests of the region.
“India is conducting itself very wisely, India is concerned about the impact about such a relationship with Afghanistan on the region, and while India is weighing that India is also not shying away from providing assistance to Afghanistan. And in terms of Indi! a’s support to Afghanistan in military equipment and training the facts are much better than what appears in the press,” he said, adding on a lighter note, that if he reveals the military help it will not remain a secret.
“It’s better than what we know publicly. India wants to help us, and is right to be wise about it and it wants to help the region be free of terrorism, and we have full understanding and satisfaction,” he said.
Karzai is in India on his 14th visit and the third in a year. He has come on an invite by the Pune-based Symbiosis University where he is to give a lecture on Sunday.
During his last visit to India in May, he had handed over a list of military equipment – that includes battle tanks, field guns, mortars, military aircraft and trucks – needed for the Afghan security forces. Around 350 Afghan army officers are currently undergoing training in India, while 1,400 have been trained so far since 2003.
Afghan army officers are train! ed at the National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakvasla, the Indian Milita! ry Academy (IMA) in Dehradun and the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai.