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Afghan Army Chief Cancels Visit to India This Week Due to Taliban Offensive

A former Mujahideen keeps watch at a check post as he holds a weapon to support Afghan forces in their fight against Taliban, on the outskirts of Herat province, Afghanistan. Reuters

A former Mujahideen keeps watch at a check post as he holds a weapon to support Afghan forces in their fight against Taliban, on the outskirts of Herat province, Afghanistan. Reuters

Afghanistan has been reaching out to its key allies in seeking support to strengthen its security forces in the backdrop of the Taliban resorting to widespread violence

A planned visit by Afghan Army Chief Gen Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai to India this week has been cancelled amid increased Taliban offensive in Afghanistan, according to senior Afghan officials on Monday. Gen Ahmadzai was scheduled to arrive here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to explore ways to deepen bilateral military ties in the backdrop of the Taliban carrying out offensive operations across Afghanistan following the withdrawal of foreign forces.

“The visit by our Army Chief has been postponed due to intensity of war and Taliban’s increased assault and offensive," the Afghan embassy official said. According to another official, the visit was likely to take place at a later stage.

Gen Ahmadzai was scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with top Indian military brass including his counterpart Gen MM Naravane and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Afghanistan has been reaching out to its key allies in seeking support to strengthen its security forces in the backdrop of the Taliban resorting to widespread violence to expand its influence across the country after the US began withdrawing troops from May 1.

In the last few years, India has provided at least five military helicopters to the war-ravaged country which has been trying to strengthen its air power. Afghanistan has also been seeking India’s assistance in making functional Soviet-era helicopters and transport aircraft that are not in flying condition.

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The country has been struggling to get spare parts for aircraft and helicopters due to Western sanctions against Moscow. Last month President Ashraf Ghani appointed Gen Ahmadzai as the new chief of army staff, replacing Gen Yasin Zia.

India is a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested nearly USD three billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country. India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

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first published:July 26, 2021, 22:00 IST