In its first reaction to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, India said on Monday that it will “stand by” its Afghan partners, take all steps to ensure the security of Indians and its interests in Afghanistan, and facilitate the repatriation of Sikhs and Hindus who wish to leave the war-torn country.
According to Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry, the situation in Afghanistan is being closely monitored at all levels, and the suspension of commercial operations at Kabul airport has forced a “pause” in India’s repatriation efforts.
The Taliban took positions in Kabul on Sunday evening, hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left for an unknown destination, capping a month-long rapid advance that paved the way for the takeover of the capital as well as the country.
“Kabul’s security situation has deteriorated significantly in recent days. Even as we speak, it is rapidly changing. The Indian government has been closely monitoring all developments in Afghanistan “He stated.
Bagchi was responding to media inquiries about the situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
“We are in constant contact with members of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. We will facilitate the repatriation of those who wish to leave Afghanistan to India “According to the MEA spokesperson.
“There have also been a number of Afghans who have worked with us to promote our mutual development, educational, and people-to-people efforts. We will support them “He stated.
Bagchi stated that India is awaiting the resumption of flights in order to resume the repatriation process.
“Commercial flights from Kabul airport have been halted as of today. Our repatriation efforts have been halted as a result of this. We are waiting for flights to resume in order to restart the process “He stated.
“The situation in Afghanistan is being closely monitored at all levels. The government will take every precaution to ensure the safety and security of Indian citizens as well as our interests in Afghanistan “Bagchi elaborated.
The MEA spokesperson also mentioned periodic advisories issued by the Indian embassy in Kabul regarding the safety and security of Indian nationals in that country, including a call for their immediate return to India.
“We had distributed emergency contact information and were also assisting members of the community. We are aware that some Indian nationals remain in Afghanistan and wish to return, and we are in contact with them “He stated.
India, like many other countries, was taken aback by the Taliban’s lightning advances in capturing power across Afghanistan after the United States began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“We definitely did not expect Kabul to fall so quickly,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan, investing nearly USD 3 billion in nearly 500 projects throughout the country.
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan is widely regarded as a setback for India, as the militant group has received strong military support from Pakistan.