India to impress Hamid Karzai before US-Afghan BSA

KABUL: (MEP) – India plans to utilize Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s visit next week to impress upon him its interests that it wants to be taken into consideration before the much-debated US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) is inked.

Although India cannot officially be a party to the BSA, its critical geopolitical interests are tied to the agreement whose signing has been delayed by Karzai. The government believes that the BSA should reflect the concerns of India as well as Iran, Central Asian Republics and Russia.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is also expected to discuss the issue of Afghan stability with the Barack Obama administration when she visits the United States next week, an official said.

The BSA and its implications for the region are expected to figure prominently in talks when Karzai meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders, said the official, who did not wish to be named.

This will be the second visit to the country this year by Karzai, who is considered India’s close ally. Karzai will be given the honour of delivering the Hiren Mukherjee memorial lecture in Parliament on December 13. The theme of the lecture will be ‘Afghanistan’s Experience in Constitutionalism and Democracy: Lessons We Take From India’.

During his last visit to India this May, Karzai had requested for supply of weapons to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of US-led international troops. India is studying the list before supplying weapons to Afghanistan. Besides, it is increasing the quota for training Afghan army officers under the Indo-Afghan strategic pact.

Indian officials feel that the BSA in its current form may not safeguard its interests and security in Afghanistan in the future.

India fears the Pakistan Army will consolidate its influence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal, impacting not only India’s diplomatic missions and development projects but also providing a breeding ground for recruiting terrorists in J&K.

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