World Bulletin/News Desk
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday he had given a "wish list" of military equipment to India during a visit this week, presenting a conundrum for New Delhi as it weighs whether arming the Afghan army is in its interests.
India wants to stabilise Afghanistan but arming Afghanistan would alarm Pakistan. It takes issue with the influence of its old rival in Afghanistan.
India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2011 under which New Delhi agreed to assist in the training and equipping of Afghan security forces.
India has trained Afghan security force personnel in its military academies, but it has provided little military equipment, according to Indian officials. India's Afghan strategy has centred on boosting its influence through economic reconstruction projects.
"We have a wish list that we have put before the government of India," Karzai told reporters, adding that it was up to India to decide how much help it was prepared to give Afghanistan.
Karzai would not say what was on the list, but India's firstpost.com website said it included 105 mm artillery, medium-lift aircraft, bridge-laying equipment and trucks.
The Indian government had no immediate comment on Karzai's statement. Karzai's spokesman said both countries had agreed not to discuss the contents of the shopping list.
India is not a major weapons exporter, and suffers chronic shortages of defence equipment itself, including artillery.
Afghanistan's request for military equipment comes as its relations with Pakistan, which have been difficult for decades, are again at a low.
This month, Pakistan border guards and Afghan police clashed over a contested border area. The Afghan police complained they had been out-gunned and said they wanted heavy artillery and tanks.
Afghan security forces have also made no secret of their desire for an air force.
The clash over their border, which Afghanistan has never officially recognised, raised new tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But Karzai did not directly criticise Pakistan on Wednesday.
He said no peace deal was possible in Afghanistan without Pakistan's involvement.
“Pakistan cooperation is key to a politically successful peace process and key to the end of violence in Afghanistan," he said.
"I hope the new prime minister will be able to deliver what he so much wishes to achieve," Karzai said.
Sharif has said he aims to boost ties with India.Last Mod: 22 Mayıs 2013, 13:32