India is willing to stand by Afghan people just as it did in the past, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday at a United Nations high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

Jaishankar stated that India has invested over $3 billion for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan and has undertaken 500 projects pertaining to aspects such as power, water supply and road connectivity, among others.

“Today, I wish to underline that in the face of a grave emerging situation India is willing to stand by the Afghan people, just as in the past,” the minister said.

He added that India’s approach to Afghanistan “has always been guided by its historical friendship with its people.”

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan last month has triggered turmoil in the country, with thousands making desperate attempts to leave the country from Kabul airport.

On August 30, the United Nations Security Council, under India’s presidency, adopted a resolution urging the Taliban to keep its commitments on preventing terror groups in Afghanistan. The resolution also called on the insurgent group to allow safe passage for those who want to leave the country.

Jaishankar on Monday said that the UNSC resolution should guide the international community’s approach in the coming days.

“Afghanistan is passing through a critical and challenging phase,” the minister said. “There has been a sea change in its political, economic, social and security situation, and consequently, in its humanitarian needs. As an immediate neighbour, India’s monitoring developments with understandable concern.”

Jaishankar said that the issue of “travel and safe passage” can emerge as an obstacle to humanitarian assistance, and that it must be immediately sorted out.

“Those who wish to travel into and out of Afghanistan should be granted such facilities without obstruction,” he said. “The normalisation of regular commercial operations of Kabul airport would not only assist in that regard, but then become the basis for a regular flow of relief material.”

On September 9, the first international commercial flight since the Taliban takeover left Kabul for Qatar’s capital Doha. All commercial flights had been suspended at Kabul airport on August 16, a day after the Taliban captured the city.

The external affairs minister on Monday said that India has always supported a central role for the United Nations on the future of Afghanistan. “A multilateral platform is always more effective than small groups in building global consensus and encouraging united action,” he said.

Jaishankar’s remarks came on a day when the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced a $20 million allocation for supporting humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

“The people of Afghanistan need a lifeline,” he said. “...Now is the time for the international community to stand with them.”

Guterres noted that the “de facto authorities” in Afghanistan have pledged to co-operate to ensure that assistance is delivered to the people of Afghanistan.

US will reassess ties with Pakistan, says Secretary of State

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the country will be looking at its ties with Pakistan in the next few weeks to assess what role Washington would want it to play with respect to Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Addressing a Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, Blinken said that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests some that are in conflict with ours.”

“...It’s one that’s involved harbouring members of the Taliban,” the US Secretary of State further said. “... It is one that’s also involved in different points cooperation with us on counterterrorism.”