Kabul – In a major push to spread its influence in the neighborhood, India has decided to supply weapons and equipment to friendly foreign countries, including Afghanistan.
And, for the first time, India is likely to provide Afghanistan with troop carriers, spares for tanks, and rocket systems that are used in counter-insurgency operations.
Top sources have told India Today that the Defence Ministry has asked the three services to draw-up a list of weapon systems that they can spare. Sources said New Delhi wants to give Afghanistan the Indian Army's excess stocks.
The Afghan National Army is comfortable handling Russian-origin platforms, which comprise at least 60 per cent of India's arsenal. Apart from this, India is also looking to procure weapon systems from the erstwhile Soviet Block.
"We will be providing them improved and strengthened weapons systems and platforms needed for effective counter-insurgency operations," top sources told India Today. Sources indicated that India is likely to provide four more helicopters, besides repairing and refurbishing helicopters it had gifted Afghanistan earlier.
India will be providing friendly foreign countries "improved and strengthened weapon systems that we can spare besides sourcing from former Soviet-Bloc countries," a top Defence Ministry source told India Today.
Breaking from the past of not supplying lethal platforms to counties like Afghanistan, the Modi-led NDA government had supplied four Russian made Mi-25 helicopters to Afghanistan.
The helicopters were to bolster the capabilities of the Afghan National Army to fight the Taliban. These helicopters are, however, grounded and need to be overhauled. "We will overhaul and provide spares to make them operational again," a top source told India Today.
Till recently, keeping in mind the sensitivities of Pakistan, India had confined itself to providing training and non-lethal supplies to Afghanistan. As well, New Delhi was worried about the risks of providing lethal platforms.
Indian facilities have been attacked in Afghanistan by Pakistan backed terror groups to deter closer ties between New Delhi and Kabul. Pakistan considers Afghanistan to be under its sphere of influence, despite its deep cultural and historic ties with India. Apart from directing terror attacks on Indian installations in Afghanistan, Pakistan has protested the presence of Indian consulates there.