India to evacuate citizens from Afghanistan on special flight today
India has appealed to all its nationals living in and around Afghanistan's Mazar-i-Sharif to leave the country on a special flight this evening. The Indian government's move comes at a time when the terrorist outfit Taliban continues to regain control across the country and is currently preparing to launch an attack to capture Mazar-i-Sharif, the fourth-largest city there.
"A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening (sic)," the Indian Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif tweeted. It asked the citizens wanting to leave to send details like their full name, passport number, etc. to two numbers through WhatsApp.
(2/2) Indian citizens desiring to leave by special flight should immediately convey their full name, passport number, date of expiry by whatsapp at the following numbers:— India in Mazar (@IndianConsMazar) August 10, 2021
Government data suggests that around 1,500 Indians are currently living in Afghanistan. Just last month, India had evacuated some 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar amid intense fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban around that city. A Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist, Danish Siddiqui, was also killed in clashes in that province.
"The safety and security of our personnel is paramount. The Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being," Indian officials had said. Now, the Indian Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif will also continue to function through local staff members, according to news agency PTI.
The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically since May, when the United States and its allies began pulling out troops from the war-torn country after two decades. Taliban has seized several districts and is in control of six Afghan provincial capitals. The withdrawal exercise is set to be completed by the end of this month, and US officials assert the decision is final.