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India wary of military role in Afghanistan

Atul Aneja

ABU DHABI: As preparations begin in earnest for a conference on Afghanistan in London, India called for a collective effort to stabilise the government of President Hamid Karzai and reiterated its commitment to build Afghanistan’s human and physical infrastructure.

More than 40 countries discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday at Abu Dhabi. Satinder K. Lambah, special envoy in the Prime Minister’s office, represented India during the daylong brainstorming session.

“This was essentially a preparatory meeting for the London conference scheduled for January 28,” Mr. Lambah told The Hindu.

U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, who was present at the conclave, is the driving force behind a series of meetings on the two countries being held at regular intervals. Diplomatic sources said India had not been involved in any significant effort to train Afghan military personnel.

Instead, New Delhi remained focused on building Afghanistan’s basic infrastructure in several fields, including transportation, health care, institution building and human resource development.

“India’s support towards building Afghanistan’s civilian infrastructure has now become visible.

The new parliament building in Kabul is coming up fast and a state-of-the-art children’s hospital that India has built has drawn international attention,” the sources said. The training of Afghan diplomats and government personnel in India is going on in full swing, as is the effort to impart knowledge to Afghan students in advanced areas including information technology, the sources observed.

India is deliberately keeping away from a high profile security role in Afghanistan, in view of the prevailing “regional sensitivities.”

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