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Taliban makes jaw-dropping announcement — direct Ariana flights from Kabul to Delhi to resume soon

Ariana airlines to resume its flights soon (Image Courtesy: Twitter/@Etilaatroz)

The Taliban regime of Afghanistan has said the flagship carrier Ariana Airline will soon resume its flights to India and other countries. Afghanistan’s official Bakhtar News Agency said that the airline would soon begin flights to India, China and Kuwait which was under suspension since the Taliban’s take over the country last year. 

“We have discussed this in Dubai. God willing, flights will soon start to India, where there are a lot of goods and a number of our passengers are there for treatment. Our flights to India, China and Kuwait will soon start,” Rahmatullah Agha, head of Ariana Afghan Airlines, told TOLO News. 

The last commercial flight from the Indian side on the Kabul-Delhi route was operated by Air India on August 15, the day Kabul fell to the Taliban. Hundreds of Indian nationals, including diplomats and security personnel, were subsequently evacuated from Kabul in special Indian Air Force flights. 

India also withdrew its ambassador and all other staff from the mission in Kabul – effectively closing the embassy for the second time since 1996.

Last week,  the top leaders of the Taliban, in the first-ever bilateral meetings with the Indian delegation led by JP Singh, the Joint Secretary of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran (PAI) division of the Ministry of External Affairs, urged the Indian team to reopen the Indian embassy and consulates, promising all necessary securities. The Taliban leadership promised action not only against India-specific groups based in Pakistan like JeM, LeT Hizbul Mujahideen but also terrorists from Al-Qaeda in the Sub-Continent (AQIS) provided specific information was released.

Though India has yet to recognise the hardline regime in Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Afghans have been asking India for humanitarian help. The Taliban Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob has been emphasising to strengthen diplomatic ties with India. 

"We attach great importance to our trade, economic and political relations with India and want to maintain that relation," said Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the regime. 

Even though India hasn’t recognised the Taliban, there has been a continuous supply of humanitarian aid to the country in the form of wheat, medicines, and clothes.

The Afghan traders too are keen to resume the trade with India which has been disrupted due to the non-availability flights between the two countries. 

The Afghanistan Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock (ACAL) says that with the start of flights between Kabul and Delhi, the country's exports will increase.

“India’s market is a good opportunity for our agriculture sector, now here in Afghanistan it is the season of grapes, pomegranates, apricots, saffron, medicinal plants, we hope that our exports will increase to other countries through air corridors,” Mirwais Hajizada, member of ACAL told TOLO News. 

According to Afghans, the air corridor between India and Afghanistan was established to boost trade between the two countries in view of Pakistan's denial to allow transit access.

"We need the air trade open as soon as possible,” says one trader. 

Earlier, Alhaj Hameedullah Akhunzada, acting minister, Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority has written to the Director-General of Civil Aviation of India for resumptions of flights between India and Afghanistan “to keep the smooth passenger movement between two countries based on the signed MoU and our National Carriers (Ariana Afghan Airline & Kam Air) aimed to commence their scheduled flights. Therefore, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority requests you to facilitate their commercial flights,” the minister said in the letter. 

Also Read: In a dramatic turnaround Taliban assures India that it would target Pak terror outfits LeT, JeM