Press Trust of india

Stand by our Afghan partners; will take all steps for safety of Indians, India’s interests: MEA

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New Delhi: India on Monday said it will “stand by” its Afghan partners, take all steps for the security of Indians and its interests in Afghanistan and facilitate the repatriation of Sikhs and Hindus who wish to leave the war-torn country, in its first reaction following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the situation in Afghanistan is being monitored on a constant basis at high levels and that the suspension of commercial operations at Kabul airport has forced a “pause” in India’s repatriation efforts.

Capping its month-long rapid advances, the Taliban took positions in Kabul on Sunday evening hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left for an unknown destination, paving the way for the takeover of the capital as well as the country.

“The security situation in Kabul has deteriorated significantly in the last few days. It is changing rapidly even as we speak. The Government of India has been closely monitoring all developments in Afghanistan,” he said.

Bagchi was replying to media queries on the situation in Afghanistan following the takeover of the country by the Taliban.

“We are in constant touch with the representatives of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. We will facilitate repatriation to India of those who wish to leave Afghanistan,” the MEA spokesperson said.

“There are also a number of Afghans who have been our partners in the promotion of our mutual developmental, educational and people-to-people endeavours. We will stand by them,” he said.

Bagchi said India is waiting for the resumption of flights to restart the repatriation process.

“Commercial operations from Kabul airport have been suspended today. This has forced a pause in our repatriation efforts. We are awaiting the resumption of flights to restart the process,” he said.

“The situation in Afghanistan is being monitored on a constant basis at high levels. The Government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan,” Bagchi added.

The MEA spokesperson also referred to periodic advisories issued by the Indian embassy in Kabul for the safety and security of Indian nationals in that country, including calling for their immediate return to India.

“We had circulated emergency contact numbers and had also been extending assistance to community members. We are aware that there are still some Indian nationals in Afghanistan who wish to return and we are in touch with them,” he said.

India along with many other countries was surprised at the lightning advances made by the Taliban across Afghanistan in capturing power after the US began pulling out its troops on May 1 from the country, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“Definitely, we did not expect Kabul to fall so soon,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan and it has invested nearly USD 3 billion in carrying out nearly 500 projects across that country.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan is largely seen as a setback for India as the militant outfit has been strongly backed by Pakistan military.

India reviews fast deteriorating situation in Afghanistan

India’s defence top brass, the foreign policy establishment and senior intelligence officials are understood to have reviewed the fast-paced developments in Afghanistan on Monday, a day after the Taliban seized ┬ácontrol of the country 20 years after it was ousted by a US-led military coalition.

People familiar with the meetings said the immediate priority of the government is to evacuate nearly 200 Indians, including Indian embassy staffers and security personnel from Kabul as the situation in the Afghan capital was fast deteriorating after the Taliban captured it on Sunday night.

On Monday, thousands of desperate people converged at the Kabul international airport in hopes of getting on an evacuation flight and leave the country.

The airport has already been shut for commercial flights and subsequently, the US military has taken control of the airport security to facilitate the evacuation of foreign diplomats and citizens.

The chaos and panic at the Kabul airport was delaying a decision on sending evacuation flights to the Afghan capital though a number of heavy-lift C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force is kept on standby for the last two days, people familiar with these deliberations said.

According to unconfirmed reports, India sent a C-17 Globemaster aircraft to Afghanistan and it returned on Monday.

There were also security concerns over bringing the Indians from the Indian embassy and other places to the airport in view of the deteriorating security situation in the capital city.

The government is also looking at bringing back hundreds of Indian citizens and facilitate the evacuation of the members of the Hindu and Sikh minorities as well as Afghan nationals who have applied for visas from the Indian embassy, officials said.

“The situation is evolving very fast and we are monitoring it closely,” said one of the persons involved in preparations for evacuating the stranded Indians in Kabul.

India along with so many other countries were surprised at the lightning advances made by the Taliban across Afghanistan in capturing power after the US began pulling out its troops on May 01 from the country, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“Definitely, we did not expect Kabul to fall so soon,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan and it has invested nearly USD 3 billion in carrying out nearly 500 projects across Afghanistan.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is largely seen as a setback for India as the militant outfit has strongly been backed by Pakistan’s powerful military.

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