India evacuates Kandahar staff,
envoys as Taliban captures new areas
Photo Credit: AFP

New Delhi: In what was described as a “purely temporary measure’’, the Indian government has evacuated 50 of its Indian personnel, including diplomats and its Consul General in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in view of the deteriorating security situation. However, the consulate will continue to be operative.

Sources confirmed that the Consul General, along with other Indian diplomats, support staff and security personnel were flown back to New Delhi in an Indian Air Force plane as the government attaches utmost importance to their safety and security.

Sources said that that they will be back with their families in India. A contingency plan facilitated smooth and safe return of the India based personnel.

The situation in Afghanistan is a cause of worry as the Taliban fighters are trying to wrest control of the land amid withdrawal of US forces. Also, with the Taliban gaining control of new areas around Kandahar, the matter had acquired a certain urgency, people familiar with the development said on Sunday.

It is understood that the Kandahar evacuation flight did not use Pakistan air space, electronic media reports said.

India is a major stakeholder on Afghanistan and has already invested nearly USD three billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country. New Delhi has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed and arrangements are being made to ensure continued delivery of visa and consular services though the Indian embassy in Kabul.

MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi stated, “ India is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan. The safety and security of our personnel is paramount. The India based personnel have been brought back for the time being due to intense fighting near Kandahar city. I want to emphasize that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The Consulate continues to operate through its local staff members.’’

During his recent visit to Russia, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar, in a joint Press conference with his Russian counterpart, had said, “ We believe that the immediate need of the day really is a reduction in violence and if we have to see peace within Afghanistan and around Afghanistan, it is important for India and Russia to work together and ensure that much of the progress that we have seen in economic, social and democratic terms is maintained.’’

On Thursday, India had said that it is carefully monitoring the security situation in Afghanistan and its implications on the safety and security of Indian nationals in the conflict-ridden country. Responding to questions at the weekly media briefing, the MEA Spokesperson had said, “Our response will be calibrated accordingly.

In June end, the Indian embassy in Kabul issued a security advisory for its nationals in Kabul and asked them to avoid unnecessary travel. Terming the situation in several provinces of Afghanistan as “dangerous,’’ the advisory warned that Indian nationals face the additional risk of being kidnapped by terror outfits.

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