India to train Afghan troops

According to press reporting, the Indian Army will train 600 Afghan Army officer as well as 200 Afghan cadets every year. This training (announced on 08NOV12) grew out of the strategic partnership agreement signed on 04OCT11 between the two countries, taking just over a year to work out.

In addition, NDTV reports “a company level (100-strong) contingents of ANA will be trained for four weeks at the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) located at Vairangte in Mizoram.” (Prior reporting had also suggested stints at the High Altitude Warfare School in Sonmarg, Kashmir)

The agreement was reported by the Indian press as a way to help build further avenues for India’s mining companies. (Back in 2011, Steel Authority of India Ltd led a consortium of top Indian firms in obtaining the rights for $1-trillion Hajigak iron ore mine in Afghanistan).


Iran to build oil pipeline to Afghanistan

Iran’s Khabar Online reports on 06NOV12 that the Islamic Republic and Afghanistan have agreed to build a pipeline in order to facilitate the exports of Iran’s oil products to meet the country’s needs. Ali Reza Zeighami, Iran’s deputy oil minister and managing director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) said an Iranian delegation will soon travel to Afghanistan to discuss the details of the agreement.

Earlier in December 2011, Iran’s Oil Ministry signed an agreement with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the annual export of one million tons of Iranian oil products.

According to the contract, Iran is expected to export products including gasoil, jet fuel and gasoline to Afghanistan.

India Hangs On To Iranian Crude

While western powers continue to tighten the screws on Iran’s oil exports, India, the world’s fourth largest oil importer, continues to remain one of Iran’s largest customers after China.

Accordingly, Iran has continued to occupy a major space in India’s energy import basket although at a lower level as a supplier of crude. While the US has been pushing Saudi Arabia to help fill the gap left by Iranian exports, India doesn’t want to depend too heavily on ersatz Saudi supplies as it could weaken New Delhi’s position in future price negotiations. In addition, it has become apparent that India’s foreign policy position on America and Iran is to try to back away from taking either side.

Continue reading

India, Tajikistan Strengthen Ties

India on 03SEP12 increased its relations with Tajikistan when PM Manmohan Singh elevated the countries relations to that of a “strategic partnership.” Announced during the visit of President Emomali Rahmon, the talks between the two leaders included the ongoing transition in Afghanistan as well as the creation of a counter-terrorism mechanism, according to the TOI.

Continue reading

Pakistan suspends NATO supply route to Afghanistan

Torkham Gate

On 26JUL12, Pakistan has temporarily stopped NATO supply trucks crossing its northwestern border into Afghanistan over security concerns due to fears of Islamist attacks.

Gunmen on 24JUL12 attacked a convoy of NATO supply trucks, killing a driver, in the town of Jamrud near the main northwestern city of Peshawar, in the first such attack since Pakistan lifted a seven-month blockade of the border.

So far, the closure has only affected the Torkham crossing.

At the southwestern crossing of Chaman, some 17 trucks were awaiting clearance to enter Afghanistan and 20 other trucks were parked in Quetta.

Before the blockade, around 150 trucks crossed into Afghanistan each day at Torkham – the closest border crossing to Kabul – and officials say the flow will rise to up to 300 a day.




Afghan policemen defect to Taliban in Farah province

An Afghan police commander and 13 junior officers have joined the Taliban in the western Afghan province of Farah, in what correspondents say could be the biggest defection by police. (The commander was based in Shewan village in the district of Bala Bulak, which was until recently considered a Taliban stronghold.)

Police and intelligence officials deployed in the province said the commander poisoned seven policemen in his charge who had refused to defect along with him.

“Mirwais and his policemen had joined the force nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Mirwais had fought the insurgents in this area for quite some time,” an Afghan intelligence official in the region told the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul.

“Long before he defected, he must have been passing intelligence and crucial information to the insurgents,” the official said.

Officials said that the equipment taken by the defectors – rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine-guns, radios and police vehicles, including two Humvees – will be a major boost to the Taliban in the area.

Humvees are prized trophies among Taliban commanders, both for their symbolic value and practical ability to travel over rough ground with armoured protection, correspondents say.

Our correspondent says this is believed to be the biggest police defection to the insurgents. Over the past few years similar incidents have taken place on a much smaller scale in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Uruzgan and in Ghor, Farah, Badghis and Herat in the west.

Such incidents have rarely been reported in the Afghan media, our correspondent says.

Farah has a strategic position, bordering Iran, and the key Kandahar-Herat highway passes through Farah.


Taliban bomb destroys 22 Nato fuel tankers

A bomb planted by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan has destroyed 22 Nato fuel tankers carrying supplies to coalition forces, local officials say.

The vehicles were hit by a pre-dawn explosion which triggered a huge fire that engulfed them in flames, they say.

At the time, the trucks were parked overnight in Samangan province, as they headed from Uzbekistan towards Nato forces in the south.

The trucks were attacked in the same province where well-known Afghan politician Ahmad Khan Samangani was killed in a suicide attack on Saturday while attending his daughter’s wedding.

Nato has relied heavily on overland supplies from Central Asia since last November when Pakistan banned Nato convoys after US airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

Although Pakistan lifted its blockade earlier this month, Nato traffic has yet to return to normal.

(BBC 18JUL12 / AJ Video)