Taliban didn’t want India to evacuate Kabul embassy staff: sources

Indian embassy in Kabul reportedly under Taliban observation (File)

New Delhi:

The Taliban did not want India to evacuate diplomats from its embassy in Kabul, sources told NDTV today, saying the government had received messages from the group’s office in Qatar assuring them of the safety of Indian personnel. and security personnel.

These messages – sent from the office of Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban’s political unit – were channeled through contacts in Kabul and Delhi, and were delivered before the evacuations from the embassy.

Sources told NDTV that the messages – seen as some sort of awareness-raising effort by the Taliban – had been passed on to the government, said Indian diplomats and embassy staff would be unharmed. he also said India need not fear attacks on its embassy or staff by groups like Lashkar or Jaish.

However, given the security situation and information suggesting that there was, in fact, a threat from these terrorist groups, the decision was made to withdraw diplomats and staff.

India completed a “complicated” evacuation of embassy staff this week, with two Air Force C-17 transport planes landing at Kabul airport on Sunday as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital.

The security situation deteriorated sharply and no evacuation was possible immediately, sources said, adding that the Indian embassy had been placed under observation by Taliban forces.

45 Indian personnel were evacuated on Monday – they were stopped by Taliban sentries on their way to the airport, and their personal belongings were confiscated.

The remaining staff – more than 120 of them, including Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon – were evacuated on Tuesday.

There are still Indian citizens in pockets in Kabul and other Afghan towns, including a group of around 200 Sikhs and Hindus who have taken refuge in a gurudwara.

Yesterday, Taliban political spokesman Mr. Naeem released a video statement from the gurudwara chief saying he was “assured” of their safety. The government has said it is working to bring back any Indians who wish to return, but also said it will prioritize the return of Hindus and Sikhs.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan left the world community stunned; few, including the United States, expected Ashraf Ghani’s government to fall so quickly. The UN has said the Taliban’s apparent desire for global recognition is their only lever to ensure inclusive government.

Regarding India, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said the government was monitoring the situation “very carefully” and that it was only in the early days.

“… we are looking at how things are going … and I think we have to take it from there,” he said.

The Taliban took effective control of Afghanistan on Sunday, after President Ashraf Ghani fled and the group entered Kabul unopposed. It was after an incredibly rapid rout of major cities after two decades of war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Their arrival sparked widespread panic in the city, thousands of people rushing to flee; heartbreaking scenes from Kabul airport grabbed headlines around the world.

Fearing for its brutal and oppressive rule two decades ago, the group has attempted to present a more moderate image since taking effective control of Afghanistan this week.

He, for example, asserted that women will have rights, including education and work, and that the media will be independent and free. He also insisted that no threat will be posed to any country.

However, a backlash to the protests – several killed after terrorists opened fire – and news that an Afghan journalist was barred from working – suggests the “moderate” stance may not last long.