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Evacuating Indians from Afghanistan is govt’s top priority, says Jaishankar

A file picture of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar assured the leaders of an all-party meeting held on Thursday that evacuating Indians is the government’s top priority as the Afghanistan situation remains ‘critical.’

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

Members were told that under Operation Devi Shakti 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 as if now. 

“We have undertaken evacuation operations in extremely difficult conditions especially at the airport. Our immediate concern and task is evacuation and long term interest is the friendship for the Afghan people”.

Jaishankar informed the members that there is chaos and uncertainty in Afghanistan and so far the Taliban has not been able to decide about the framework of governance because the group is divided and like the other countries, India is too in wait and watch mode. 


Friendship with Afghan people

India trusts its friendship with the people of Afghanistan and all investment made by it for the welfare of the Afghan people, Jaishankar said.  

In a marathon meeting on the situation of Afghanistan, which lasted over three hours, Jaishankar told the members that all India’s investment on various projects are people- oriented.

“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,” he said in his tweets.

As many as 37 leaders from 31 parties attended the meeting, almost everyone got a chance to speak and Jaishankar briefed them about the ground situation that exists in Afghanistan and what India’s role has been so far.

A presentation was also made by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla about India’s role, and its projects in Afghanistan.  He said that six evacuation flights had been operated, the latest one on Thursday morning.

According to the Hindustan Times, in a reply to a question about India being isolated on the Afghan issue, the minister said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, Saudi Arabian State Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir all are in touch with India. India as president of UNSC called a special session on Afghanistan on August 16. India is also playing a role as the chairman of the UN 1988 sanctions committee for listing and delisting of terror entities and individuals. 

Jaishankar informed the all-party meet about India’s security concerns in the war-torn country. And steps taken by the government in this regard. 

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