New Delhi: India would grant six months' e-visa to around 180 Afghan soldiers and cadets being trained in different military academies in the country after they complete their courses here.
Defence forces in India have been training Afghan soldiers and officers as part of the capacity-building programme started in 2001. The Afghan cadets and officers are at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, the Officers' Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai, and the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla in Pune. The Indian government bears these officers' training and other expenses as part of nation-building efforts in Afghanistan after 2001.
The government will provide E-visas for six months to all the Afghan cadets and soldiers training in the academies. However, they have the option of deciding upon their course of action regarding their future in this period, sources said. However, over 100 Afghan soldiers and cadets have applied for visas for other western countries, including Canada, England and Germany.
They have applied for 'asylum' in different countries, and some of them also want to stay in India. They have been put in touch with agencies who have been working with Afghans already living in the country.
Understandably, the future of these cadets became uncertain as the Taliban strengthened their grip over Afghanistan and formed a 'new government'. It may be mentioned that during the takeover of Kabul, several Afghan army soldiers and officers had 'defected' and joined hands with the Taliban. Some had also joined the ranks of the resistance forces in the Panjshir Valley.
Besides assessing the security situation in Afghanistan and assisting them, the Indian government and the erstwhile Afghanistan government had been exploring ways to enhance military cooperation in areas such as training. For India, a key security concern is the presence of thousands of terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in Afghanistan. This has been an issue of security concern for Indian authorities.
In July, Afghan Army Chief Gen Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai was scheduled to arrive in India on a three-day visit to explore ways to deepen bilateral military ties, but the trip was later cancelled.