Afghanistan can bank on India most: Pentagon

16 Dec 2017


India is Afghanistan's "most reliable regional partner", providing economic, medical, and civic support to the war-torn country, the Pentagon told the US Congress on Friday.

"India is Afghanistan's most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region," said the Pentagon in its report to the Congress titled 'Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan'.

Having built the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam and the Afghan parliament building, India remains the largest provider of development assistance to Afghanistan, the report noted.

Besides, India provides training facilities to Afghan officers – both civil and military – with an ever increasing share of the burden, it said, adding that approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military and commissioning programmes.

India has also donated limited security assistance, most notably four Mi-35 aircraft, the Pentagon said.

"The new South Asia policy highlighted our relationship with India and called on India to provide more assistance to the international efforts in Afghanistan. The United States welcomes additional Indian economic, medical, and civic support to Afghanistan," the Pentagon said in its report.

"Our purpose in Afghanistan remains the same: to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven from which terrorist groups can plan and execute attacks on the United States, or our allies and citizens abroad. To accomplish this, we continue to support our Afghan partners and train, advise, and assist its military and government institutions," it said.

Meanwhile, the US has vowed to continue support to the Afghan government and security forces in the fight against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - Khorasan (ISIS-K), and other insurgents and terrorists, to strengthen the Afghan government and prevent resurgence of terrorist elements.

"A major change from our previous strategy is the shift from a time-based approach to a conditions-based one. This shift underscores the US commitment to the continued development of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), provided that our Afghan partners satisfy their obligations," the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon, however, said the new strategy does not mean a return to US-led combat operations, instead, the key to success lies in improving ANDSF capabilities and allow them to lead in the fight against the Taliban, it clarified.

"We will continue to work by, with, and through the ANDSF to help them defeat their enemies and to ultimately arrive at a political settlement in Afghanistan," said the Pentagon.

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