ASTANA (TCA) — India is going to create a market for its defense equipment in Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, and has assured Kazakhstan of all possible support in strengthening its counter-insurgency operations, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat said during a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart in Astana last week, Sputnik news agency reported.
“Kazakhstan has sought assistance for capacity enhancement in the areas of counter insurgency operations, military education and training of cadets in India. Chief of the Army Staff assured them of whole hearted support,” Indian Army said in a statement.
The two army chiefs also discussed various aspects of defense cooperation including the upcoming joint exercise to be held at Bakloh in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh this November. Gen Rawat also conveyed India’s support for the deployment of Kazakh armed forces in UN peacekeeping operations.
The Chief of Indian Army was on a six-day official visit to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The visit is part of India’s outreach initiative to engage with its extended neighborhood as it aspires to create a market for its defense equipment in Central Asia. Kazakhstan has already exhibited deep keenness in forging joint ventures with India in “upgrading” the erstwhile ‘Soviet’ defense equipment they have been using since long ago.
Moreover, Kazakhstan will become a center point for India to enter resources rich Central Asia through the International North-South Transport Corridor — a multi-mode network of sea, rail, and road routes especially as India expects Chabahar port in Iran will start functioning in 12-18 months.
“Chabahar Port will start functioning within 12-18 months. This opens doors for business with Afghanistan and Iran,” Nitin Gadkari, India’s Minister for Port & Shipping said in Parliament on Friday.
The port of Chabahar is located on the Makran coast of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, next to the Gulf of Oman and at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean. The port will make way for India to bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan and other countries of Central Asia using a sea-land route. At present, Pakistan does not allow India to transport merchandise through its territory.