India evacuates staff from Kandahar as Taliban advance

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New Delhi evacuated all of its India-based employees out of Kandahar on a special flight on Saturday evening as the Taliban pushed into the province amid fighting and violence, reported Times of India.

As per the report, the Indian mission is currently staffed entirely by Afghan nationals, and while it is nominally operational, India has effectively left the region. The Taliban,, in a statement, declared this week that they control 85 percent of the country. Quoting security officials TOI reported, the Taliban govern roughly a third of the nation, although they have a substantial presence in choke points like cities and major highways.

The MEA spokesperson said on Sunday, as per TOI, “India is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan. 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. I want to emphasise that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilises. The consulate continues to operate through our local staff members.”

As per the report of TOI, the Mazar-e-Sharif consulate is still operational and staffed by Indians for the time being, but that may not last long as the Taliban advance across Afghanistan’s western provinces. The only embassy that is still completely operational with Indian employees is in Kabul. Earlier this week, Rudrendra Tandon, India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, spoke on the country’s deteriorating security situation with new Afghan defence minister Bismillah Khan Mohammedi.

The Indian government, reported TOI, on Thursday indicated that they were watching the situation “carefully”, before pulling out personnel on Saturday. India had already closed down its missions in Jalalabad and Herat in 2020, citing Covid, but it was clear that the security situation had played a part, read the report.

Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, and they recently took over Panjwai and Zharey, and their forces are on their way to take over Spin Boldak on the Pakistan border. Taliban have taken control of key border crossings in the west, including Islam Qala on the Iran border and Torghundi on the Turkmenistan border, and have begun collecting customs money there.

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