‘India constantly monitoring situation in Afghanistan’

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New Delhi: India is prepared for any possible eventuality including evacuation of its officials and nationals from Afghanistan in view of fast deteriorating security scenario with the Taliban wresting control of several major provincial capitals such as Kandahar and Herat, the second and third largest Afghan cities.

India is constantly monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and contingency plans are in place to deal with any situation including evacuation of officials and Indian citizens if required, people familiar with the development said.

It is learnt that a number of international organisations including media entities have approached Indian authorities to help them in the evacuation of their staff if the situation deteriorates further.

With the Taliban stepping up its onslaught across Afghanistan, the US has announced to send around 3,000 troops to Kabul to evacuate a significant number of its embassy staff.

The UK is also sending 600 troops to help British nationals leaving the country in view of the massive spike in violence.

India evacuated its staff from its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif earlier this week in view of the rapidly escalating violence by the Taliban around the capital city of Balkh province.

“We are closely monitoring developments in this regard. We are concerned about the deteriorating security situation,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday about the developments in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has made rapid advances in the last few days and reports said it now controls about a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.

A US statement on Thursday said Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd J Austin spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to stress that the US remains invested in the security and stability of Afghanistan in the face of violence by the Taliban.

The Taliban’s capture of Kandahar and Herat is seen as a major setback for the Afghan forces.

The militant group has also captured the strategically located provincial capital of Ghazni on Thursday, increasing its territorial control in the country.

Meanwhile, the Afghan foreign ministry said it has raised with the international community the “grave concerns” of the government and people of Afghanistan over the Taliban’s brutal attacks on cities, which have led to “war crimes and blatant human rights violations and humanitarian catastrophe”. The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the United States began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1.

The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.

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