11 Jul 2021: As Taliban advances, India evacuates Kandahar consulate in Afghanistan
Amid reports of the Taliban gaining control of new areas around Afghanistan's Kandahar, India on Saturday evacuated around 50 of its diplomats and security personnel back to Delhi citing security concerns. A special Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft was sent to Kandahar on Saturday to bring back diplomats, staff, and security personnel of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Here are more details.
Context: Intense fighting near Kandahar as US withdraws troops
Since the United States has decided to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban is trying to regain control. India's move, in this context, is precautionary as the Taliban has gained control of many key areas of Kandahar, which served as their headquarters in the 1990s. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) maintained that the decision was taken due to intense fighting near Kandahar.
MEA: Move temporary; consulate to work through local staff: MEA
Stating that the decision was taken to ensure the "safety and security" of Indian personnel, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi clarified that the consulate will not be closed. "This is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The consulate continues to operate through our local staff," he clarified. He said arrangements have been made to ensure uninterrupted visa service through Indian Embassy in Kabul.
Fact: 'No plan to close down Embassy in Kabul'
On Tuesday, the Indian Embassy in Kabul clarified that there was no plan to close down the embassy and its consulate in Mazar-e- Sharif. However, in April last year, India had shuttered two of its consulates in Jalalabad and Herat citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
India: Indian embassy asks its citizens to exercise 'caution'
Last week, Indian Embassy in Kabul asked its citizens to remain "cautious" and avoid non-essential travel as the security situation in the country still remains "dangerous". In an advisory, the Indian embassy also cautioned its citizens that they may be an easy target of kidnapping as India is a major stakeholder in Afghanistan's peace process and stability.
Background: US to withdraw troops early, Biden announced
Taliban's repeated gain in military occupation of Afghanistan is propounded by America's decision to withdraw its forces from the country after nearly two decades. Last year, former US President Donald Trump decided to end the war by pulling out its forces from Afghanistan. Two days ago, President Joe Biden announced that the military mission will conclude on an advanced deadline of August 31.
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