The Afghan defense authorities are likely to seek more delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters from India as the Afghan government has stepped up efforts to increase the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.
According to local media reports in India, the Army chief General Qadam Shah Shahim is expected to visit India next month to meet Indian officials and hand over a revised wish list to the Indian authorities.
The Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali has confirmed to the local The Hindu newspaper regarding Gen. Shahim’s visit to India.
“Obviously, the Army Chief will be here to discuss defence cooperation. India has agreed that it will help with some of the other defence equipment that we have requested. It has also agreed to give us more helicopters, so we are looking into other avenues as well, to help Afghanistan in the defence sector,” Abdali said.
According to the paper, India had apprehensions about transferring offensive weaponry and had held off those requests. That changed with the Narendra Modi government’s decision to supply four attack Mi25 helicopters in December last year ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit to Kabul.
“There is a perception [in Afghanistan] that India may not go that far when it comes to Afghanistan’s quest for certain things including defence,” Mr. Abdali said.
“To be frank, at times requests have been delayed for too long, and then ultimately some perception was created that India doesn’t do it [because of] neighbours like Pakistan, and I hope that this perception is addressed by the cooperation between our two governments in various fields, including defence cooperation,” he said.
The need for Afghanistan and India to cooperate despite Pakistan’s misgivings about the relationship is a key theme in a book authored by the Afghan Ambassador, Pakistan-Afghanistan-India: a paradigm shift, which was launched in Delhi recently.
This comes as the Afghan national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar is in Russia to discuss the procurement and delivery of Mi-35 gunship and Mi-17 helicopters to the Afghan armed forces.