Jaishankar says Afghan situation critical, evacuation priority at all-party meet

By | Written by Sohini Goswami, New Delhi
Aug 26, 2021 01:26 PM IST

Jaishankar said the Taliban went on Doha treaty, adding India had adopted a "wait and watch" policy over the chaos in Afghanistan.

At an all-party meeting, convened by the Centre to discuss the prevailing situation in Afghanistan was held on Thursday, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said the crisis in Afghanistan was "extremely critical" and India's top priority was to evacuate "as many as possible".

All-party meeting on the Afghanistan situation underway in Parliament on Thursday. (Arvind Yadav/HT)
All-party meeting on the Afghanistan situation underway in Parliament on Thursday. (Arvind Yadav/HT)

"Thirty-five people have been brought back today," he said. Further, the EAM reportedly said the Taliban "have not kept their word given in Doha" while finalising on the peace treaty, adding India, at the moment, had adopted a "wait and watch" policy over the chaos in Afghanistan.

Among other things, the Doha pact, signed between Taliban leaders and the US in February 2020, envisaged religious freedom and democracy, with a government in Kabul that represented all sections of Afghan society.

India was trying to bring out as many people as possible from Afghanistan, the minister said and evacuating Indian personnel was a "top priority", the EAM said.

Jaishankar spoke to leaders of several political parties, including the Congress and Trinamool Congress, on the latest situation in the war-ravaged nation after the Taliban seized power last week.

Also read | India makes e-Visa must for Afghan nationals, all previous visas invalidated

The briefing came amid a massive evacuation exercise undertaken by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) from Afghanistan following the fall of the Western-backed elected government, led by Ashraf Ghani.

Earlier in the day, the United States and allies urged people to move away from Kabul airport due to the threat of a terror attack by Islamic State militants as a rush to evacuate more citizens before an August 31 deadline intensified.

Following Jaishankar's speech, all opposition parties unanimously congratulated the government on its position on the crisis in Afghanistan and lauded the minister for India's evacuation programme.

Besides Jaishankar, Union minister and Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi were present during the briefing in Parliament House annexe. Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla were also in attendance.

Congress MPs Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Mallikarjun Kharge, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, DMK's TR Baalu, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel took part in Thursday’s meeting.

Earlier, Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the MEA to brief floor leaders of all political parties on the recent developments in Afghanistan.

Opposition parties had also asked the government to issue a statement on the Afghanistan crisis.

Also read | Day before Jaishankar’s address, Oppn prepares for govt’s Afghan briefing

Afghanistan plunged into crisis after the Taliban entered the presidential palace in the Afghan capital on August 15 and declared its victory over the government after months of violence across the country

Soon after, most nations, including the US and UK began bringing out their citizens from the country along with Afghan nationals desperate to escape the Islamic militant group’s rule.

On August 17, India announced it would issue an emergency e-visa to Afghan nationals who want to come to the country in view of the prevailing situation.

Also read | 'Operation Devi Shakti': India evacuates more than 800 people from Afghanistan

The same day, Modi chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and instructed all officials concerned to undertake all necessary measures to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days.

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