India will be guided by its ties with Afghan people: Jaishankar

Published on Aug 18, 2021 11:17 PM IST

India has extended development assistance worth $3 billion covering an entire range of areas - from health, banking, water, power generation, transportation and reconstructing schools.

Afghans take part in a protest over Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday. (AFP)
Afghans take part in a protest over Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday. (AFP)
ByYashwant Raj I Edited by Amit Chanda

India is watching the evolving situation in Kabul closely but it is focused currently on the safety and security of Indian citizens, external affairs minister S Jaishankar told reporters on Wednesday.

Jaishankar added that India’s approach to the new dispensation there will be guided by its relationship with the Afghan people. “We are like everybody else very carefully following developments in Afghanistan,” the minister said when asked about the situation unfolding in that country, adding, “I think our focus is on ensuring the security in Afghanistan and the safe return of Indian nationals who are there.”

Jaishankar spoke to reporters after chairing a UN Security Council meeting on peacekeeping in New York.

To a question if India will engage with a Taliban or Taliban-dominated government in Kabul, the external affairs minister, said, “I think that the relationship with the Afghan people obviously (is) continuous and that will guide our approach to Afghanistan in the coming days. At this time, I think these are early days. Our focus right now is on ensuring the safety and security of Indian nationals.”

India has had long historical ties with Afghanistan and since 2001, after the fall of Taliban 1.0, it has extended development assistance worth an estimated $3 billion covering an entire range of areas - from health, banking, water, power generation, transportation and reconstructing schools. It also built Afghanistan’s new parliament.

Pressed by another reporter on whether India has had contacts with the Taliban in recent days, the minister said, “We are looking at what is the evolving situation in Kabul, obviously the Taliban, and its representatives have come to Kabul so I think we need to take it on from there.”

The ministry of external affairs had indicated some contacts with the Taliban in response to news reports of an exchange of messages. It had said India was in contact with “various stakeholders” in Afghanistan but that was in June, before the Taliban had begun their swift march back to power in Kabul.

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