The Centre on Thursday briefed the leaders of political parties about the situation in war-torn Afghanistan and India’s evacuation mission. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has triggered a humanitarian and diplomatic crisis.
Union Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar informed the politicians that the situation in Afghanistan was critical so the Indian government’s top priority was to evacuate the country’s personnel, reported PTI.
“We have undertaken evacuation operations in extremely difficult conditions especially at the airport,” Jaishankar said. “Our immediate concern and task is evacuation and long term interest is the friendship for the Afghan people.”
The Centre said that the Taliban had broken promises made in the Doha agreement signed in February 2020.
In the pact between the terrorist group and United States, the two sides had reached an agreement on certain matters, including freedom of religion and democracy. The deal also ensured a government in Kabul, representing all sections of the Afghan society.
However, soon after the takeover, the Taliban had declared that Afghanistan would not be a democracy, and that the country would be governed by the Sharia, or Islamic law.
A senior leader of the group, Waheedullah Hashimi, had said that Afghanistan may be governed by a ruling council headed by Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.
“Our strong friendship with the people of Afghanistan is reflected in the more than 500 projects we have there,” Jaishankar said. “This friendship will continue to guide us. India’s footprint and activities naturally keep in mind the ongoing changes.”
Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and 37 leaders from 31 political parties had attended the meeting.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s TR Baalu, Janata Dal (Secular) founder HD Deve Gowda and Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel were among those who attended the all-party meeting, according to PTI.
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. The group made swift advances and captured key Afghan cities as foreign troops prepared to withdraw from the country by the end of August.
India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan was anticipated, but the timeline of the group’s fast-paced spread in the country had surprised New Delhi.
Thousands of Afghan citizens are desperately trying to escape the country after the Taliban’s return to power. The Indian government has said it will help members of the Hindu and Sikh communities from Afghanistan who want to come to India.
Between August 15 and Tuesday, India evacuated 626 people from Afghanistan. This included 228 Indian citizens. Another flight carrying 200 people – Indians as well as Afghan Hindus and Sikhs – is expected to arrive on Thursday, according to The Hindu.
On Wednesday, the Indian government announced that all Afghan citizens must travel to India only on e-visas. On August 17, the government had announced a new category of electronic visa to fast-track the applications of Afghans who wished to travel to India. The new category is called “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa”.
Over the last few days, distressing visuals showed people pursuing aircraft on the runway and clinging to planes even as they prepared for takeoff. The videos were from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
There have also been stampedes and firing. At least 20 people died in the chaos at the airport over the last week.
The United States and its allies are overseeing the massive effort to evacuate Afghans as well as their citizens from Afghanistan. On Wednesday, the US said that since August 14, it has helped with the evacuation of more than 82,000 people from Afghanistan.
US allies have also reportedly sought an extension of the evacuation deadline so that more people can be flown out of Afghanistan. But Biden remains firm on the August 31 deadline to pull out troops of the country. The Taliban has also asked countries to maintain the timeline of the exit of foreign soldiers.