Pakistan may train Afghan soldiers only if army inclusive

Earlier during UNGA address, PM insisted the world to assist, not isolate the Afghan Taliban

Pakistan would reportedly offer Afghanistan military training services on the condition that the Afghan army be inclusive and representative of all sectors in the country.

A senior military official told BBC that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed visited Afghanistan recently to discuss the possible collaboration. The official asserted that the military assistance was contingent upon an inclusive army as well as the recognition of the Taliban leadership by Pakistan and other regional countries.

Former defense secretary Asif Yasin echoed the officials’ comments and said that the possibility of training Afghan army should not be put on the table officially till the regional situation developed further. Even though he was on the fence about the topic, he added that Pakistan could offer great value to Afghanistan as they were experienced in counter terrorism training as well.

Yasin also addressed the possible cost if such a mission came to fruition. He said that Pakistan would emulate the training missions in the middle east and would not charge Afghanistan a training fee. Other countries like Qatar and China would also be a part of the military training, added Yasin.

The Afghan army disintegrated after the US troops departed in August, which ended the two decade long foreign occupation in Afghanistan. According to the BBC, heavy military equipment and machinery fell into the hands of the Taliban, who have maintained control over it since. Several afghan soldiers joined the Panjshir resistance against the Taliban, while others were allegedly demotivated and abandoned the army after the Taliban takeover.

Pakistan offering military training wouldn’t be novel. Earlier, former president General Pervaiz Musharraf’s regime, offered former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai a training program for the army and the police. BBC also revealed that former army chief General Raheel Shareef also gave former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani the same offer. Both offers were politely declined by Afghanistan.

If military training became a reality, it would be in continuance of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s foreign policy on Afghanistan. At his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) address on Friday, Khan urged the world to not isolate Afghanistan and send humanitarian aid to avoid Afghans from suffering any further.

The PM said that regional cooperation and recognition of the new leadership was needed, so that peace prevailed in the neighbouring country.