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India pulls out of Mazar-e-Sharif, tells nationals to leave Afghanistan

The evacuation from Mazar-e-Sharif, the bustling city in the north which is situated close to the border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, comes after Indian diplomats and staff left the Kandahar consulate last month.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: August 11, 2021 7:21:30 am
Afghanistan fightingAfghans flee fighting as Afghan security personnel patrol after they took back control of parts of the city of Herat following fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces, on the outskirts of Herat, 640 kilometers (397 miles) west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/File)

With the Taliban advancing on Mazar-e-Sharif, India Tuesday evacuated its diplomats and personnel from its consulate in the largest city of north Afghanistan.

Simultaneously, the Indian embassy in Kabul issued a security advisory — the third in three months — asking Indians to leave Afghanistan in view of the escalation in violence and as air services to several provinces and cities are discontinued.

The evacuation from Mazar-e-Sharif, the bustling city in the north which is situated close to the border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, comes after Indian diplomats and staff left the Kandahar consulate last month.

The Indians had left the consulates in Herat and Jalalabad last year in view of the pandemic. These consulates are now being run with the help of Afghan staffers who number around 15-20 at each location.

“The security situation is grim in the north, so we took the decision,” a source told The Indian Express.

The consulate made an announcement about a special flight leaving Mazar-e-Sharif from New Delhi Tuesday evening, and urged Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif to leave for India on the special flight.

Sources said a special aircraft was sent to bring back Indian diplomats, officials and other staff members, including a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.

The Indian embassy in Kabul is still functioning with Indian diplomats, staffers, security personnel and Afghan staffers.

The embassy’s advisory Tuesday reiterated that it is in continuation of two security advisories issued by the embassy on June 29 and July 24.

It said the earlier security advisories remain valid. “As violence in many parts of Afghanistan has escalated, commercial air travel services to many provinces and cities are getting discontinued. All Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan are strongly advised to keep themselves updated on the availability of commercial flights from various parts of Afghanistan, and make immediate travel arrangements to return to India before commercial air services are discontinued to their place of stay, or visit in Afghanistan,” it said.

Indian companies operating in Afghanistan, it said, are “strongly advised to immediately withdraw their Indian employees out of project sites in Afghanistan before air travel services get discontinued”. It also asked Indian nationals, working for Afghan or foreign companies in Afghanistan, to immediately request their employers to facilitate their travel from project sites to India.

To members of the Indian media arriving in Afghanistan, it said: “It is very essential that all Indian media persons arriving/staying in Afghanistan establish contact with the Public Affairs and Security Wing of the Embassy for a personalized briefing, including specific advice for the location they are travelling to. This will help media persons make a better assessment of the risks involved, given the rapid changes in the security situation taking place in different parts of the country.”

Internally displaced Afghans who fled their home due to fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel, are seen at a camp in Daman district of Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/File)

“All Indian nationals are once again advised to register themselves with the Embassy of India website or by email,” the advisory said.

India has taken the decision to evacuate its nationals in view of the rapid advance of the Taliban who have seized control of large swathes in northern, southern and western Afghanistan, triggering grave security concerns.

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