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Indian ‘technical team’ reaches Kabul embassy, IAF flies in quake relief

“First consignment of India's earthquake relief assistance for the people of Afghanistan reaches Kabul. Being handed over by the Indian team there,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a Twitter post, attaching photographs of an Indian Air Force aircraft in Kabul.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: June 24, 2022 7:23:57 am
The team that travelled to Kabul on June 2, more than nine months after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, found that the health and education infrastructure was crumbling but the security situation had shown some improvement. (Twitter/@ArindamBagchi)

Taking an incremental step towards reopening the Indian embassy in Afghanistan, Delhi Thursday sent a “technical team” to Kabul where it will be stationed at the embassy to coordinate delivery of humanitarian aid.

India also sent aid for the people of Afghanistan, a day after a deadly earthquake claimed more than 1,000 lives in the Paktika province near the border with Pakistan.

“First consignment of India’s earthquake relief assistance for the people of Afghanistan reaches Kabul. Being handed over by the Indian team there,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a Twitter post, attaching photographs of an Indian Air Force aircraft in Kabul.

While Delhi said the stationing of the Indian “technical team” was meant for monitoring and coordination of delivery of humanitarian aid, it is being seen as the first step towards reopening the Indian embassy which was shut in August last year when the Taliban seized control of the country.

Underlining that India has a “historical and civilizational relationship with the Afghan people,” a statement by the MEA said, “In order to closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people, an Indian technical team has reached Kabul today and has been deployed in our Embassy there.”

On June 2, a team led by JP Singh, Joint Secretary in charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran (PAI) in the MEA, visited Kabul to “oversee delivery operations of our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan” and met with senior members of the Taliban. An assessment of the security situation there was also carried out, the MEA said.

An Afghan villager collects his belongings from under the rubble of his home that was destroyed in an earthquake in the Spera District of the southwestern part of Khost Province, Afghanistan, June 22, 2022. (AP)

“Our longstanding links with Afghan society and our development partnership including humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan, will continue to guide our approach going forward,” it said.

The attack on the Karte Parwan gurdwara in Kabul last week increased the threat perception and cast a shadow on plans to restart some of the functions of the embassy — visas, humanitarian help, trade in some sectors — but the intention to resume these services remain, sources said. A political call was taken to start with humanitarian help, the sources said.

The team that travelled to Kabul on June 2, more than nine months after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, found that the health and education infrastructure was crumbling but the security situation had shown some improvement.

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This initial assessment was shared with the leadership here.

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