New Delhi: Around 50 diplomats and security personnel were pulled out from the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Kandahar, people familiar with the development said on Sunday.
This was done taking cognisance of the deteriorating security situation in the region as the Taliban gains control of new areas around the southern Afghan city.
A special aircraft of the Indian Air Force was sent on Saturday to bring back the Indian diplomats, officials and other staff members including a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.
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After it was reported that the India consulate in Kandahar has been temporarily closed, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi clarified that the Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being.
“I want to emphasize that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members,” he stated.
In response to the queries on the Indian Consulate in Kandahar, the Official Spokesperson said: “India is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan. The safety and security of our personnel are paramount”.
“Arrangements are being made to ensure continued delivery of visa and consular services through our Embassy in Kabul,” he added.
Taliban militants are rapidly seizing control of a number of key areas in the region as well as in western Afghanistan triggering serious security concerns. The Indian embassy in Kabul had on Tuesday said there was no plan to close the embassy and the consulates in Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Later, the Ministry of External Affairs informed that India was carefully monitoring the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its implications on the safety and security of Indian nationals.
“Our response will be calibrated accordingly,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing on Thursday.
Afghanistan is once again witnessing turmoil with a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US maintained its position to completely withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by August-end, bringing nearly two-decades of its military presence in the war-ravaged country to an end.
Reports stated that at least two foreign missions in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, have closed their operation because of escalating violence in the region.
Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay on Tuesday briefed Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla about the situation in Afghanistan as India became increasingly concerned over the deteriorating situation in the country.
Last week, the Indian embassy had asked all Indians visiting, staying, and working in Afghanistan to exercise utmost caution for their security and avoid all types of non-essential travel in view of rising incidents of violence.
In an advisory, the embassy warned that the security situation in Afghanistan remains “dangerous” and that terror groups have carried out a series of complex attacks including targeting civilians. Indian nationals face a “serious threat” of kidnapping, it added.
India has already invested nearly USD three billion in aid and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, being a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of the country. The former has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled.
During Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar’s visit to India in March, External Affair Minister S Jaishankar conveyed to him that India has long-term commitment towards a peaceful, sovereign, and stable Afghanistan.
(With Agency Inputs)