While India and Afghanistan entered a “strategic partnership agreement” in 2011, Delhi has been wary of supplying arms and ammunition to Afghanistan. Delhi’s defense cooperation with Kabul so far has been largely limited to training Afghan troops. Back in 2016, India also supplied four Russia-made attack helicopters to Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan Embassy in Delhi has denied news reports that New Delhi has been supplying arms to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to help fight the Taliban.
“These reports are not true at all,” an embassy spokesperson told Sputnik.
Multiple Pakistan-based sources, including leading English daily The Express Tribune, have claimed that India flew in “two cargo planes” loaded with artillery shells to Afghanistan on 2 July.
According to the newspaper, the same cargo planes returned with around 50 Indian officials from New Delhi’s consulate in Kandahar.
India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11 July disclosed that “India-based personnel” at the Kandahar consulate had been flown back due to “intense fighting” in the southern Afghanistan province, which borders Pakistan.
“I want to emphasize that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members,” Indian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
In the ongoing hostilities between the Taliban and Afghan government forces, New Delhi has consistently thrown its weight behind an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-controlled, and Afghan-led” peace process, at the same time maintaining that it’s in touch with “various stakeholders” in the war-ravaged nation.
“We are both committed to an independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan,” Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar said at a joint press conference after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow last week.
The Taliban fighters, emboldened by the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, have been overrunning the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in offensives across the country. According to the group’s own admission as well as several Afghan media reports, the Islamists now control crossings at Afghanistan’s southern, western, and northern borders.
Last week, the Taliban also claimed control of a strategic district located at the tri-border of Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan in the Badakhshan province.
Regional powers including Russia, Iran, and India have expressed concern over the spillover of the intra-Afghan conflicts into their borders.
At a meeting between a high-level Taliban delegation and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov last week, the Islamist outfit assured Moscow that it would “not violate” the borders of the Central Asian countries, as per a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
The Taliban, at a press conference after meeting the Russian envoy, claimed that it now controls nearly 85 percent of Afghanistan.