Afghanistan crisis: Evacuating Indians is government’s priority, says Centre

Afghanistan crisis: Evacuating Indians is government’s priority, says Centre

The Union Ministry for External Affairs said on Thursday that its top priority was to ensure the evacuation of Indians from Afghanistan, News18 reported.

However, spokesperson Arindam Bagchi noted that the Kabul airport is not functioning. “We will resume our operation to evacuate people from Kabul as soon [as] the airport service resumes,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times.

All commercial flights were suspended at the Kabul airport on August 16, a day after the Taliban captured the city.

On August 27, Bagchi told mediapersons that the Indian government has evacuated over 550 people, including more than 260 Indians, from Afghanistan. The others were either Afghans or people from other countries, he said.

The spokesperson on Thursday said that a vast majority of Indians who wanted to leave the country have done so, ANI reported. But he added that he does not yet have the exact number of Indians who are still stuck in Afghanistan.

Bagchi added that the Indian government does not have any details about the nature of the government that will be formed by the Taliban, the Hindustan Times reported.

He added that India’s aim is to ensure that Afghanistan’s soil is not used for terrorism of any kind.

Bagchi added that it was too early to decide whether to accord any recognition to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, India Today reported.

On Tuesday, India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s political office in Doha. This was the first official meeting between an Indian diplomat and the Taliban since the insurgent group took over Afghanistan.

Bagchi said on Thursday that he did not have an update on this meeting.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, entering the presidential palace in capital Kabul and ending its insurgent offensive that had ripped through the country in 10 days.

Thousands of Afghan citizens have been desperately trying to escape the country since then. The Indian government has said it will help members of the Hindu and Sikh communities from Afghanistan who want to come to India.

On August 27, the Kabul airport became the site of an explosion that left at least 85 people dead. The attack took place amid frantic efforts by western troops to evacuate people from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover.

Terrorist organisation Islamic State of Khorasan had claimed responsibility for the attack.

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