No plans to put boots on the ground in Afghanistan: Army Chief

By: |
January 13, 2021 12:27 PM

Recent reports suggesting that India is thinking about sending troops to Afghanistan to replace the withdrawing US servicemen from Afghanistan is not only fallacious but also against the stated stand of the Indian government not to get involved in the messy and intricate powerplay that has been ongoing for over two decades in Afghanistan.

MM Naravane, indian armyThe Chief of the Indian Army Gen MM Naravane stated “There is no plan of committing boots on the ground in Afghanistan.” (Photo source: PTI)

Recent reports suggesting that India is thinking about sending troops to Afghanistan to replace the withdrawing US servicemen from Afghanistan is not only fallacious but also against the stated stand of the Indian government not to get involved in the messy and intricate powerplay that has been ongoing for over two decades in Afghanistan.

According to Indian Army veteran, Brig NK Bhatia told Financial Express Online, “Interestingly, no demand for sending Indian troops to Afghanistan has ever been made by the Afghan government as it considers itself capable of taking on the challenge posed by the Taliban in the aftermath of US troops withdrawal from its soil.”

At the annual press conference ahead of the Army Day on January 15, responding to a question regarding sending troops to Afghanistan, the Chief of the Indian Army Gen MM Naravane stated “There is no plan of committing boots on the ground in Afghanistan.” “I do not envisage such a scenario,” the chief added.

Expert View

“India has committed to provide developmental aid for the people of unfortunate and hapless people of Afghanistan to benefit them directly through low budgeted projects and has been doing so with commitment braving the challenges of terrorism and loss of lives to its personnel. And has also been providing for substantial assistance in the field of education and healthcare for Afghan people by extending scholarships and medical aid,” Brig Bhatia says.

In his opinion, “India’s decision not to commit any soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is part of a well-thoughtout strategy so as not to directly involve itself in the internal affairs of the country.”

“As is well known, Afghanistan’s messy insurgency is directly fuelled by its southern neighbour through the use of religious and terrorist proxies. Presence of Indian troops will pitch them directly against such elements and exacerbate the already fragile situation making it a never-ending commitment,” the Indian Army veteran observes.

What has India committed so far?

India has committed itself to assist the Afghan National Defence & Security Forces (ANDSF) and has been providing them regular support by training them. “In fact, a substantial number of its cadets have stepped out of India’s officer training military academies to don the uniform of the Afghan Army. Similarly, India has provided military assistance by supplying a limited amount of military hardware such as helicopters and vehicles for ANDSF,” says Brig Bhatia.

India’s commitment to Afghanistan has been unwavering and based on long-standing people to people contacts.

From next month onwards the US is planning to start the process for bringing down the number of its troop presence from 5000 to 2,500 in Afghanistan.

There has been a telephone conversation between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Afghanistan Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar. Talks between Afghanistan administration and the Taliban have resumed in Doha, Qatar. Afghanistan is trying to seek regional and international support for a ceasefire leading to a political settlement.

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