India’s new contacts with Taliban aid Kabul embassy evacuation

Indian envoy back; insurgents offer ‘general amnesty’ | Afghan channels allowed to feature female anchors

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 17

The government today utilised its newly established contacts with the Taliban to ferry the embassy staff to India in two phases. There were some incipient signs of a takeover in Kabul and of the new rulers coming to grips with administrative challenges. Abdul Ghani Baradar, tipped to be the new Afghanistan President, left Doha for Kabul.

The Taliban, having received global condemnation for violence amidst calls to be inclusive, announced “general amnesty” for government officials, asking them to return to work.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with full dignity and honesty has announced a complete amnesty for all Afghans, especially those who were with the opposition or supported the occupiers for years and recently,” a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission announced. Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed after the US-controlled airport was cleared of the crowd and sanitised.

Afghan TV channels were also allowed to broadcast programmes featuring female anchors, while some women activists in Kabul were permitted to demonstrate for greater participation in decision making.

Indian Embassy officials on Monday night contacted the insurgent group’s leadership with which they had recently become acquainted. As a result, the Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster dispatched to Kabul on Monday finally left for India in the morning.

The plane landed at Jamnagar for refuelling as it took a detour to skirt Pakistani airspace and then landed here in the afternoon with Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon and other India-based personnel.

“We’ve not abandoned the people of Afghanistan. We’ll continue our interaction… can’t say in what form. Situation is changing,” said Tandon after landing in Jamnagar.

The MEA has set up a special cell for maintaining accurate information about all Indians currently in Afghanistan. “Those already in Afghanistan were urged to return immediately, while others were advised not to travel there,” the MEA said.

The virtual rolling up of the Indian embassy came a day after the Union Home Ministry introduced a new category of electronic visa to fast-track applications of Afghans wanting to enter India.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in New York to participate in UNSC events, tweeted: “Movement of the Indian Ambassador and the Embassy staff from Kabul to India was a difficult and complicated exercise. Thank all those whose cooperation and facilitation made it possible.”

Addressing anxieties of those left behind, he said India was working out arrangements for their evacuation in association with partner countries.

Emergency e-visa for Afghan nationals

India has announced a new category of emergency e-visa for Afghan nationals who want to come to India. The MHA said all Afghan nationals, irrespective of their religion, could apply for the “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” online. The visa would be valid for six months.

Jaishankar, Blinken discuss Afghan situation

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, who is in the US, discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Underlined the urgency of restoring airport operations in Kabul. Deeply appreciate the American efforts underway in this regard,” he tweeted.

Tribune Shorts


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