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India keen to help build Afghan civil infrastructure

Sandeep Dikshit


Karzai had broached the topic of India training Afghan troops

India content to train small complement of Afghan officials


NEW DELHI: While professing disinterest in large scale training of Afghan security personnel, New Delhi will be “very happy to hear of capacity building projects” in which Kabul requires assistance, during talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, who is here , said highly placed sources.

Mr. Rasul will meet National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and hold delegation-level talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

India will also seek to know the efficacy of joining the several trilateral and quadrilateral talks being held in world capitals and resorts, aimed at providing direction to peace and stability in Afghanistan in view of western plans to scale down troop presence towards the middle of next year, they added.

Although Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai had once broached the subject of India training his country's troops, the idea quickly ran into Pakistani objections. So, instead of locking horns with Islamabad on the issue, New Delhi is content to train a small complement of Afghanistan Army officials while focusing on “across the spectrum” capacity building in civilian areas.

In this respect, India is laying store on the United Nations Development Programme's National Institution Building Programme (NIPB) aimed at beefing up the organisational capacity of Ministries and strengthening Afghanistan institutes to turn out better-trained civil servants. India and Italy are the two leading participants in this project, with New Delhi signing a fresh memorandum of understanding and committing funds as well as personnel for the current year's work plan.

“Despite heinous attacks we remain committed to assisting Afghanistan. This relationship is unaffected by political vicissitudes in India and Afghanistan,” said the sources. The NIPB is considered low profile, but essential to nation-building, and India, with its accent on projects that help ordinary Afghanistan citizens, has participated in its two predecessors — Capacity for Afghan Public Services (CAP) Project, and the Civil Services Leadership Development (CSLD) — which have now been combined with the present programme.

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