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India to send more ITBP personnel to Afghanistan


New Delhi : A week after the suicide attack on its mission in Kabul, India is planning to send more Indo Tibetan Border Police personnel to enhance security for the nearly 3,700 Indians who are involved in various reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who returned from a two-day visit to Kabul Monday, met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and briefed him about the discussions he had with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior ministers on steps needed to ensure better protection of the Indian mission in Kabul and the four consulates in Afghanistan.

Menon met Karzai Monday and discussed the common threat of terrorism confronting both countries.

The crucial Zaranj-Delaram road link, aided by India, is to be opened Thursday. The road link seeks to reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan for overland access to Central Asia and provide an alternative route for Indian goods to that country.

Special arrangements have been made by the Afghan government to ensure security during the ceremony. Pranab Mukherjee may go for the opening ceremony, a source said.

The July 7 car bomb attack on the Indian mission in Kabul killed an Indian diplomat and a military attaché of brigadier rank. It also killed 54 Afghans and two other Indians.

National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said Saturday that New Delhi had “pretty good evidence” of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence’s suspected involvement in the car bomb attack on the Indian mission.

Without naming Pakistan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said in Kabul Sunday that the attack was the work of “our common enemies, of the enemies of our common friendship, and of the enemies of peace in Afghanistan and our region”.

Pakistan has denied any involvement in the Kabul attack.

Menon’s two-day visit to the Afghan capital, from Sunday, coincided with the Indian mission resuming issuing of visas that sent a clear message across that India will not be deterred from its reconstruction work in Afghanistan.

Saying that sacrifices of those killed in the attack will not be in vain, Menon said India was “determined to continue the work of these martyrs to our friendship.”

He underlined that India’s commitment to the reconstruction of Afghanistan was unwavering. India has pledged $850 million for various reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, ranging from roads and bridges to power stations and parliament complex.

The Zaranj-Delaram road has been targeted by the Taliban and its backers many times in the past three years.