On Thursday, at least 37 leaders from 31 political parties met at an all-party meeting called by the central government to discuss the Afghanistan crisis. The Minister for External Affairs, Dr S. Jaishankar, who chaired the meeting, briefed all party leaders about the on ground situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country. During the meeting, Jaishankar said that the situation in Afghanistan is “critical” and that the government of India is currently focusing on its evacuation mission in Afghanistan to bring all Indians back from the war-torn country.
The meeting took place days after PM Modi asked the external affairs minister to brief all the political leaders regarding the situation.
What Did EAM Jaishankar Say?
During the meeting, the foreign minister informed that as of now a total of 565 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan. He said that 175 embassy personnel, 263 other Indian nationals, 112 Afghan nationals, and 15 third-country nationals have arrived in India.
Jaishankar further added that India has brought back most Indians, and the government is trying its best to bring the rest out of Afghanistan. He said that the government is fully committed to ensuring the complete return of the people at the earliest. India has operated six evacuation flights under Operation ‘Devi Shakti’ so far.
The minister said that the government has also launched the E-Visa system to help Afghan citizens who want to leave their country. To coordinate repatriation and other requests from Afghanistan, the government of India has set up a 24X7 special Afghan cell.
“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,” tweeted S. Jaishankar after the meeting with the opposition leaders.
India Will ‘Wait and Watch’ On Afghan Policy
India is yet to declare its position on Afghanistan. Urging all party members and countrymen to be patient until the situation is normalised, S. Jaishankar said that just like the other countries, India will adopt the “wait and watch” policy on Afghanistan. He explained that a firm policy decision on Afghanistan could not be taken unless the country formed a government. He further stated that as long as there were Indian citizens remaining in Afghanistan, India’s priority will continue to be evacuation.
What Did The Opposition Say?
During the meeting, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised a series of questions regarding India’s Afghanistan policy, and the exact number of evacuees from Kabul since the government of India launched its evacuation mission.
Kharge also raised the issue of a female Afghan diplomat who was recently deported from New Delhi because of a visa issue. Expressing his regret on the incident, S. Jaishankar said that the government is looking into the matter and that it will ensure this would never happen again.
Kharge, who is the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, further asked the foreign minister regarding the government’s counter-terrorism plans, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the Taliban’s return to Afghanistan.
According to the Hindu, one of the opposition leaders asked Jaishankar about India’s investments in Afghanistan, to which the minister did not give a suitable response.
Who Attended The Meeting?
Apart from EAM S. Jaishankar and other senior BJP leaders, the meeting was attended by Congress leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma, former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader Deve Gowda, DMK MPs Tiruchi Siva and T.R. Baalu, Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s Nama Nageswara Rao, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress leaders Saugata Roy and Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, Telegu Desam Party’s Jayadev Galla, and CPI MP Binoy Viswam and others.
What do we know so far in Afghanistan?
On Thursday, Afghanistan’s capital Kabul witnessed a series of terror attacks in which more than 90 people were killed, including 13 US servicemen. According to reports, two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds near the Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul, where thousands of Afghan citizens and civilians of other countries had gathered to leave the country.
According to several media reports, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed Khorasan Province branch took responsibility for the attack. Soon after the bombings at the Kabul airport, which also killed 12 US marines, US President Joe Biden called a press conference and vowed to give a befitting reply. Biden has asked the Pentagon to initialise plans to attack those responsible and their establishments.
“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this – we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” warned Biden during his White House address.