The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that some of the Indians willing to leave Afghanistan were still awaiting evacuation, but the exact number was not clear.
At a press briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, however, said that most of the Indians who were seeking to get out of the warn-torn had already been evacuated.
“This is a number [of people willing to leave] that changes as we receive new information,” Bagchi said. “People who wish to leave the country can contact us [and] there could be Indians who may wish to stay in the country...We may not know that.”
His comments came a day after two explosions outside Kabul international airport killed at least 85 people. The attack claimed by terror group ISIS-K (Islamic State of Khorasan) has caused chaos in Afghanistan as many countries have announced they would stop evacuation flights from Kabul. The evacuation is expected to be over on August 31, the deadline for withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, which was taken over by the insurgent group Taliban on August 15.
Responding to a question on whether India was following the August 31 deadline, Bagchi did not give a direct reply.
“We are aware of the very difficult situation on the ground right now,” he said. “We are in touch with various parties regarding when we can mount evacuation flights...We will share more details as we go ahead.”
He, however, said that India’s evacuation process was hit by some difficulties due to the situation in Kabul.
“The last flight had 40-odd people...We were hearing reports that Afghan nationals were facing difficulties in reaching airport,” he said. “We know some Afghan nationals, including Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, could not reach the airport on August 25. Our flight had to come without them.”
The spokesperson said that more than 550 people have so far been evacuated by the government, of which over 260 were Indians, while others were Afghans or citizens from other countries. The numbers, Bagchi said, did not include the Indian Embassy personnel who have been evacuated too.
“Primarily, our focus will be on Indian nationals [for further evacuations], but we will also stand by Afghans who stood by us,” the spokesperson added.
In response to a query on India’s stand on recognising a Taliban government in Afghanistan, Bagchi said that it would be “jumping the gun” to take a decision on the matter at this point. “Situation on the ground is uncertain,” he added. “Primary concern is security and safety of people. Currently, there is no clarity about any entity forming a government in Kabul.”