In its first response to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the ministry of external affairs issued a short statement on Monday. Considering that the situation in Afghanistan is still fluid, the MEA spokesman merely gave a factual account of what it is doing for Indian citizens and minority Sikhs and Hindu communities living in Afghanistan.
There is no word yet on whether the Indian diplomats have been brought back. Commercial flights are no longer operating considering that the exodus of diplomats and Afghan nationals trying to get out of the country has led to chaos inside the airport. Five people died in the melee.
"The security situation in Kabul has deteriorated significantly in the last few days. It is changing rapidly even as we speak,’’ Arindam Bagchi, MEA spokesman said. He added that India was closely monitoring developments in Afghanistan.
Delhi had been issuing periodic advisories to Indians living or working in Afghanistan. They had been advised to leave the country as the Taliban advanced towards Kabul. Many had left yet there are still some Indian nationals stuck in Afghanistan and wish to return. The statement said that the embassy is in touch with them. The numbers of Indian nationals still in Afghanistan were not given. Nor do we know if they are in Kabul or other provinces. Getting the Indian nationals from their homes to the airport is a major task. American’s have used helicopters to fly their diplomats from the embassy to the airport.
The mission is reaching out to representatives of Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu minorities and has promised to help all those who wish to leave the country. The fate of religious minorities under the Taliban is yet uncertain. Afghan citizens who have partnered with Indian developmental projects including educational and people-to-people activities will also be helped if they wish to come to India. The MEA statement did not spell this out, merely saying ``We will stand by them.’’
There has been a pause to India’s repatriation efforts as commercial flights were suspended today. ``We are awaiting the resumption of flights to restart the process,’’ the MEA said. India is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan. The statement said, "The government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan".