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Afghan national security advisor headed to Delhi to meet with counterpart

He will be accompanied by Hekmat Karzai, deputy foreign minister.

India, which had been sidelined by the Ghani government since 2014, is also prepared to show it remains committed to Afghanistan.

For the first time since India and Afghanistan signed the strategic partnership agreement in 2012, India will give four MI-25 attack helicopters to Afghan security forces.

This is significant, coming in the midst of a bruising campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Doval and Atmar have spoken frequently in the past few weeks.

While these are not the MI-35 that Afghanistan had asked for, the decision to supply the choppers still is important because New Delhi had hitherto shied away from giving weapons and defence equipment to Afghanistan largely due to concerns about how Pakistan would react.

India also had issues of capacity – India’s defence manufacturing is modest.

However, a trilateral defence cooperation arrangement between India, Russia and Afghanistan made it easier for Kabul to source defence equipment from Russia paid for by India.

Atmar’s visit also comes after the recent Kunduz operation which fell to the rebels before being retaken by the Afghans but was seen as a failure of intelligence and security preparation of the national army, while being indicative of a resurgent Taliban.

The fact that the Taliban included Punjabi fighters from LeT reaffirmed Pakistan’s stamp on the operation. Atmar was one of the brains behind the aborted agreement between the Afghan and Pakistani intelligence services—the NDS-ISI pact in 2014.

The Indian decision to give military equipment might create a disturbance inside Pakistan. Pakistan leaders, Nawaz and Raheel Sharif have tried to impress on the US that they would help to stabilize Afghanistan if India’s presence could be minimized. Pakistan has insisted that peace talks with the Taliban can only happen in Pakistan, but peace in Afghanistan would be on Pakistan’s terms, by accommodating Taliban. Whether Ghani would go down that path or not, there is popular opposition to Pakistan inside Afghanistan.