India to fulfill Afghanistan's request, will extend military assistance
India has agreed to extend its assistance to Afghan security forces, during a strategic partnership council meeting between Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani in New Delhi. India's decision fulfills Afghanistan's longstanding request for India to provide it greater military assistance. In a joint statement, Swaraj and Rabbani also made a subtle reference to threats from Pakistan-based terrorism.
"India has further agreed to provide assistance to Afghan national defence forces," said Rabbani during the joint statement. India has provided military training and four used attack helicopters to Afghan security forces but has stopped short of providing it advanced lethal weapons, worried about antagonizing Pakistan. Rabbani asserted that India's assistance doesn't translate to hostility to any country, a reference to Pakistan.
Rabbani said both India and Afghanistan are victims of terrorism. He said terrorist acts by Pakistan-based groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are a threat to regional stability. Swaraj and Rabbani "called for an end to all forms of support, state sponsorship, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists." The statement is a subtle reference to Pakistan, whom both India and Afghanistan have accused of sponsoring terrorism.
Swaraj said India's relationship with Afghanistan is an "article of faith" for New Delhi. Both sides announced a New Development Partnership and agreed to undertake 116 High Impact Community Development Projects across 31 Afghan provinces in areas of education, health, agriculture, water management, administrative infrastructure and more. They also signed four pacts, including a motor vehicles agreement.