(This was originally posted in The Print by Nayanima Basu)
In an unprecedented move, the Ashraf Ghani government has sought “robust air support” from India as the fight between the Afghan government forces and the Taliban insurgents grew more intense in the last couple of days, ThePrint has learnt.
The Afghan government is concerned that the Taliban “will most definitely” escalate their level of violence once the US forces complete the drawdown of troops by 31 August and thus the need for air support from New Delhi is now being aggressively pushed by Kabul, top sources in the Afghan government told ThePrint, requesting anonymity.
The government in Afghanistan wants the Indian Air Force (IAF) to come into the country and support the Afghan Air Force even though the US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth McKenzie made clear that America will give support immediately after 31 August, sources added.
While the request for air support is not new, the Ghani government is “extremely concerned” that the Taliban will now accelerate its violent actions across the country as it continues to make rapid advances. It’s latest advance is happening in Mazar-i-Sharif where fighting intensified Monday.
The matter is believed to have been discussed during a recent phone call between Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar and India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. However, it appears New Delhi made it clear that it will not be able to take “such a drastic step” as India has never believed in these kinds of “counterterrorism mechanisms”.
Troika Plus meeting in Doha
All eyes are once again on Doha now as the Qatari capital gears up to host yet another meeting of the peace process under the ‘Troika Plus’ as part of the intra-Afghan dialogue between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban leaders. READ FULL NEWS HERE