All-party meeting: MEA Jaishankar says Afghanistan situation 'critical'; evacuation priority
At the all-party meeting convened by the Centre on Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar said the situation there is "extremely critical" after the Taliban captured power on August 15. Briefing the leaders on the current situation in Afghanistan, Jaishankar asserted that India is evacuating "as many as possible" and the evacuation of Indian personnel remains a "top priority." Here are more details.
Who all attended the meeting?
The meeting, held at Parliament House Annexe, was attended by Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi. Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla were also present. Other attendees included NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Rajya Sabha's Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, DMK's TR Baalu, and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda.
Taliban broke promises made in Doha: Jaishankar
Jaishankar said that the Taliban "has not kept their word given in Doha." Talking about India's approach at that time, he said that India had adopted a "wait and watch" policy toward the chaos in Afghanistan. The Doha pact—inked between the Taliban and the United States—envisaged religious freedom and democracy in Afghanistan along with a government representing all sections of Afghan society.
35 people evacuated from Afghanistan today: Jaishankar
The briefing came at a time when countries are winding up evacuation missions in Afghanistan ahead of the August 31 deadline agreed with the Taliban. Countries like Belgium and France have already announced the closure of their evacuation operations. The US is also set to finish evacuations before the deadline. Talking about India's evacuation efforts, Jaishankar informed that 35 people were repatriated on Thursday.
Opposition lauded government's evacuation efforts
Reportedly, after Jaishankar's briefing, the Opposition unanimously congratulated the government on its position on the crisis in Afghanistan and lauded India's evacuation efforts. Thursday's meeting came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the MEA to brief floor leaders of all political parties on the recent developments in Afghanistan. The Opposition, too, had asked the government to issue a statement on the same.
US, allies warn against 'terror threat' at Kabul airport
Separately, the US and its allies issued warnings on Thursday, asking their citizens to avoid the Kabul airport over "terror threats." While they didn't provide details of the "threat," the countries are worried about a terror attack by the Islamic State as they rush to complete evacuation before August 31. Earlier, US President Joe Biden had acknowledged the IS threat to Americans in Afghanistan.
What is happening in Afghanistan?
It has been over a week since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the capital city, Kabul, was captured. The group gained ground as the US withdrew its troops to end its two-decade-long 'War on Terror'. While the Taliban is trying to form an "inclusive government," several Afghans are rushing to flee the country, fearing reprisals and return of harsh Islamic rule.