Afghanistan has sought more military supplies from India including attack helicopters and US favours Indian support in enhancing Afghan security forces, a top American commander overseeing US operations in the war-ravaged country said.
India has already provided four Mi-25 helicopters to Afghanistan and US Commander General John Nicholson said the country needs more military aircraft to deal with Taliban and various other terror outfits.
Welcoming India’s contribution to restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan, Nicholson said terror outfits like Haqqani network, Lashkar-e- Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are not only a threat to Afghanistan but to the region including India.
Nicholson, who heads the US operations in Afghanistan, on his second visit here has met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar and discussed a range of issues including situation in Afghanistan and terror threats to the region.
“I cannot speak for the Afghan government. But I know that they have requested more and would like more and I think there is an immediate need for more as these aircraft can immediately get into the fight,” he said, when asked whether Afghanistan was seeking more military helicopters from India apart from the four Mi 25 choppers.
He said Afghanistan was struggling to get spare parts for Russian aircraft due to Western sanctions against Moscow and India can supply them, adding “the US favours India’s military support to Afghanistan”.
Referring to Pakistan, he said the Taliban “enjoys sanctuaries” in Pakistan and that the US has asked Islamabad to take steps to contain the terror networks operating from its soil.
“We consistently encourage Pakistan to take action against terrorist groups that operate from its territory and close down their safe havens,” he told a group of journalists, at the same time, adding that the US was supportive of Islamabad’s efforts to reduce the ability of militants groups.
Nicholson said the US was trying to build a “counter terrorism platform” focusing on containing all terror groups emanating from the region and ensure its peace and stability.
Hailing India’s contribution in reconstruction of Afghanistan, he said the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat province and Chabahar port project will help boost Afghanistan’s economy.
The US Commander yesterday visited the burial sites of one of his ancestors — Brigadier Gen John Nicholson — in a cemetery in Old Delhi. “My wife and I cleaned his grave,” he said.