Offer to train Afghan troops renewed

Published November 7, 2014
KABUL: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif holding talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here on 
KABUL: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif holding talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here on Thursday.—Online

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif renewed on Thursday Pakistan’s offer to train Afghan security forces and promised weapons for an infantry brigade.

The offer was made during Gen Sharif’s day-long visit to Kabul for meetings with new Afghan civil leadership and military commanders.

The Army chief met President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah, NSA Hanif Atmar, Defence Minister Gen Bismillah Muhammadi, and Afghan Chief of General Staff, Gen Sher Muhammad Karimi.

Know more: Pak-Afghan ties: the road ahead

This was Gen Sharif’s first visit to Kabul since the formation of the new government.

The visit precedes his visit to the United States from Nov 16 and Afghan President Ghani’s upcoming visit to Pakistan later this month.

General Sharif meets civilian, military leaders in Kabul

“General Raheel Sharif offered full range of training courses and facilities in Pakistan’s training institutions to Afghan security forces,” ISPR said in a statement issued from Rawalpindi.

Pakistan first offered training to Afghan security forces in 2010 at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conference in Brussels. The proposal was aimed at bridging trust deficit bet­ween the two countries. Three years later an Afghan defence delegation led by defence minister Bismillah Muhammadi visited Pakistan in 2013 for inspecting Pakistani training facilities. The Afghan delegation’s visit was then seen as a paradigm shift in Afghanistan’s perceptions about Pakistan.

Afghanistan was reluctant to accept the Pakistani offer because of allegations of Pakistan’s backing for Taliban insurgency.

Army Spokesman Gen Asim Bajwa said the Afghan side this time looked interested in accepting Pakistan’s offer.

But, this is not the first time either that Pakistani generals noted such interest among their Afghan interlocutors. They saw same desire after Gen Muhammadi’s 2013 visit, but nothing happened afterwards.

The offer to arm an infantry brigade could, however, be more effective way of improving relations with the Afghans.

“The COAS also offered capacity enhancement of an Infantry Brigade including provision of equipment,” the ISPR statement said.

According to the statement, Gen Sharif in his meeting with Afghan President Ghani said that the election of the new government in Afghanistan would prove to be a historic opportunity to transform Pak-Afghan relations into a ‘warm and mutually beneficial’ relationship.

Gen Sharif said that the only way to ensure regional security was to treat terrorism as our common enemy.

Other issues discussed during the visit included enhanced bilateralism between Pakistan and Afghanistan after ISAF forces drawdown, particularly enhancing Pak-Afghan border coordination mechanism, intelligence sharing and transparency.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2014



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