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Blame That Is Unnecessary

The US has seemingly realised that it left Afghanistan in tatters by withdrawing its troops from the war-ravaged South Asian nation in 2021. Nearly two years after the withdrawal of troops, the US has blamed India for funding anti-Taliban warlords in Afghanistan. In a report released on March 7, 2023, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) of the US quoted former Afghan Army Chief General Hibatullah Alizai as saying: “Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum and so on, went to India and got money (from India) to create a resistance in the North. That is good, but that money should have gone to the Afghan Government to pay Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) salaries. That should have been directed to the Central Government to be distributed lawfully.” Immediately after the SIGAR released the report titled ‘Why the Afghan Security Forces Collapsed’, the Indian media have claimed that the hypocrisy (of the US) is too stark to ignore.

The SIGAR has mentioned in its report that New Delhi had funded the Afghan militia leaders, instead of funding the Government led by former President Ashraf Ghani, in an attempt to trigger a collapse of the Government before the advancing Taliban Forces in just about five days in August 2021. General Alizai told the SIGAR: “I, as a commander, was requesting money for operations and supplies, but I could not get it from the Government. But, Dostum got money just by making phone calls to the Indians. That funding should have gone to the Central Government and Central Bank.” It may be noted that Noor and Dostum are former warlords from the northern provinces of Afghanistan, while ANDSF were the Armed Forces of the Ghani-led Government.

Watch: US accuses India of funding Afghan warlords

SIGAR, the leading oversight authority of the US Government on the reconstruction process of Afghanistan, concentrated mainly on the fateful days in August 2021 while preparing the report. On August 15, 2021, the Taliban took control of the country after the Government forces failed to resist them. According to Foreign Policy experts, SIGAR did not mention in its report that India had provided ANDSF personnel with military training scholarships on an annual basis. After the fall of the Ghani Government, more than 700 ANDSF personnel were being trained in India, and were allowed to stay in the neighbouring country. Hence, it was not India, but the US policies, which led to the collapse of ANDSF. Washington DC failed to develop capabilities of ANDSF and the Afghan Police, in spite of the presence of the US Forces in the country for two decades.

Meanwhile, the Indian defence experts have recalled that although the US Government sanctioned USD 90 billion as security-related aid to Kabul, the amount was not used in a proper manner. Earlier, the US Department of Defence admitted that it had sent aircraft, guns, vehicles, ammunition and specialised equipment, like night vision goggles and biometric devices, worth nearly USD 7.2 billion, to Afghanistan. However, those were left behind by the withdrawing US Forces from Kabul. Later, the Taliban fighters took control of at least 78 aircraft worth USD 923.3 million, 9,524 air-to-ground munitions worth USD 6.54 million, over 40,000 vehicles, more than 300,000 weapons, and almost all night vision goggles.

The Indian experts have strongly criticised the SIGAR for making a serious attempt to divert the global attention from the failure of the US Administration in tackling the situation in Afghanistan. They have further advised the Joe Biden Government to take positive steps in order to help Afghanistan restore peace, as well as political stability. So far, India has not recognised the Taliban-led Government in Kabul. However, the Narendra Modi Administration in New Delhi is still sending aid to the Afghan people.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs announced on March 7 that New Delhi would send its next consignment of 20,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat to Kabul soon via the Iranian port of Chabahar. While India had sent about 40,000 MT of 50,000 MT (of wheat) promised in 2022 after an agreement with the previous Government of Pakistan led by former Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, New Delhi had to call off the shipments after floods in Pakistan. The Indian Ministry is of the opinion that the US is unnecessarily blaming India for the current political turmoil in Afghanistan.

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