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Afghanistan situation remains ‘critical’, evacuating Indians top priority: Centre at all-party meet

The government noted that the Taliban has broken the promises made in the February 2020 Doha agreement with the US, which “envisaged religious freedom and democracy, with a government in Kabul that represented all sections of Afghan society.”

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 26, 2021 9:53:24 pm
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar after the all-party meeting on Afghanistan. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

At the all-party meeting on the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, the government on Thursday stated that evacuating Indian personnel from the country is its “top priority” as the situation remains “critical” since the Taliban takeover.

Following the meet, which was attended by 37 leaders from 31 parties, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted that he had briefed the floor leaders of all political parties regarding the situation in Afghanistan.

“There is longstanding national sentiment on Afghanistan. Therefore, there is national concern now at developments,” Jaishankar said.

“All parties have similar views, we approached the issue with a spirit of national unity,” the minister said following the meeting.

Regarding evacuations, Jaishankar elaborated, “We have under operation Devi Shakti made six flights for evacuation of Indians, one of which took off this morning. We have brought back most Indians, but not all of them. There are still a few out there… We have also brought out some Afghan citizens, who wanted to come to India. We have tried addressing other issues by instituting an e-visa policy.”

News agency PTI reported that a document shared in the meeting shows that the Indian government has evacuated 175 Embassy personnel, 263 other Indian nationals, 112 Afghan nationals including Hindus and Sikhs, and 15 third country nationals. The total figure stood at 565.

The minister also stated, “Our strong friendship with the people of Afghanistan is reflected in the more than 500 projects we have there. This friendship will continue to guide us. India’s footprint and activities naturally keep in mind the ongoing changes.”

However, he stressed that “Our immediate concern and task is evacuation and long term interest is the friendship for the Afghan people.”

During the meet, the government noted that the Taliban has broken the promises made in the February 2020 Doha agreement with the US, which “envisaged religious freedom and democracy, with a government in Kabul that represented all sections of Afghan society.”

Union minister and Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi were also present at the meeting.

From the Opposition, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, DMK’s T R Baalu, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, and Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel were also in attendance.

Post the meeting, Kharge stated that the situation was the “entire country’s problem” and “all parties have taken the same view.”

“We raised the issue of a female (Afghan) diplomat who was deported. They said that they made a mistake, it won’t be repeated and they will look into the matter,” the Congress leader was quoted as saying by ANI.

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