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Harsha asked: What are the implications of Afghanistan-India treaty, especially in terms of India training Afghan security personal, for the relationship between the two countries, and what are its effects on Pakistan?

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  • Vishal Chandra replies: First and foremost, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of India have signed an ‘Agreement on Strategic Partnership’ and not a ‘Treaty.’ Secondly, it is reflective of the aspirations of the two sovereign states to further build on their ties in keeping with their mutual interests. The Agreement essentially suggests that the two friendly neighbouring countries wish to further institutionalise and consolidate their cooperation in various sectors critical to the future of Afghanistan. It simply reiterates India’s commitment as a development partner of the Afghan people, even as uncertainty over the future of Afghanistan grows. The Agreement is, thus, in continuation of India’s effort since 2001 to help build Afghan capacities so that Afghans can take control of their own affairs. The timing of the agreement, however, assumes significance as it comes at a time when Afghanistan is passing through a crucial phase of ‘transition’ whereby the Western forces are handing over the security responsibilities to their Afghan counterparts.

    The point pertaining to India assisting in the training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) has to be seen as part of India’s overall effort to build Afghan capacities. The document is by no means military-centric and does not refer to any bilateral security arrangement or treaty. A clear distinction must be made here between deployment of troops for military operations and providing assistance in building up the capacities of an army or police. These are entirely two different things and should not be confused or mixed up with each other.

    India has time and again made it clear that it has no intention of deploying its military on Afghan soil. Perhaps, India, along with several other countries, would be contributing towards building up the Afghan military, most likely by training Afghan military officials at its own institutions in India, who in turn would be expected to train and mentor the Afghan forces. Several Asian countries too are assisting in rebuilding the capacities of the Afghan military. It is for Afghanistan to decide as to how it intends to deal with its internal and external challenges. Indian aid and assistance is in accordance with the wishes of the Afghan government and people.