Three Indians airlifted from Taliban area, embassy sounds alarm


New Delhi, Aug. 13: Three Indian engineers had to be airlifted from a Taliban-controlled area in Afghanistan, prompting the Indian embassy in Kabul to reiterate on Thursday its security advisory for Indian nationals in the war-ravaged country.

Meanwhile, reports emerged from Afghanistan that Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city located close to the Iran border, has also fallen to the Taliban.

According to the Indian Media, Thursday’s was the fourth security advisory by the Indian embassy in the last three months — the last one was issued only two days ago. It comes on a day India attended a regional conference on Afghanistan in Doha, at the invitation of Qatar.

Ministry of External Affairs’ Joint secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan & Iran) J P Singh went to Doha and met Afghan leader Abdullah Abdullah, along with Indian envoy Deepak Mittal.

The latest advisory was in continuation to the earlier three — dated June 29, July 24 and August 10 — and stated that precautions and security measures advised in the previous advisories continue to remain valid.

All Indian nationals in Afghanistan are again requested to strictly adhere to the measures, it said.

It cited a recent case that required “emergency air rescue of three Indian engineers (who) remained at a dam project site in an area, not under the control of government forces”.

This has brought to light that Indian nationals, receiving the embassy’s advisories are “not heeding its advice”, and continue to put themselves in “mortal danger”.

The embassy has underscored the need for all Indian nationals to fully adhere to steps in security advisories provided from time to time.

It also said that special attention is once again drawn to members of the Indian media arriving in Afghanistan for “ground reporting”. Without mentioning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui’s killing it said that as a recent tragic incident demonstrated, “public profile of Indian journalists in Afghanistan entails additional risks”.

It said that it is advised that members of the Indian media should take additional security measures for their stay, and movements inside Afghanistan, including tying up of interviews and plan coverage before arrival in Afghanistan, as well as identifying well-established, security, logistic firms who can make necessary security arrangements for stay and movement of the journalists.

Earlier in the day, India said the situation in Afghanistan is of concern, and it is a “rapidly evolving situation”.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India is in touch with all stakeholders in Afghanistan and is closely monitoring the ground situation there. At a media briefing, Bagchi said India attended a regional conference on Afghanistan in Doha. “The situation in Afghanistan is of concern…. We continue to hope that there will be a comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan,” he said.

Asked about Pakistan’s continued support to the Taliban, Bagchi said the international community is well aware of that country’s role.

Asked about India’s engagement with the Taliban, Bagchi said New Delhi is engaged with all stakeholders, including regional countries.

India has been engaged with several stakeholders and leading powers on the latest developments in Afghanistan. It has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.-Agencies

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