High-level group formed by Modi focussing on India's interests in Afghanistan
New Delhi/IBNS: A high-level group has been formed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to monitor the situation in Afghanistan, focusing on India's priorities and ensuring that Afghanistan's soil is not used for terrorism against India, said media reports.
The high-level group includes foreign minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval apart from key ministries, organisation, and senior officials.
In the last few days, amid the critical situation in Afghanistan, the high-level group held meetings continuously to ensure the safe return of Indians still in Afghanistan, the travel of Afghan nationals, especially members of minorities such as Hindus and Sikhs to India and ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan is not used in any manner for terrorism directed against India, said a Hindustan Times report citing a source.
The group is also monitoring the ground situation in Afghanistan where the US completed the withdrawal of its troops on Monday and international reactions to the developing situation there as well as the UN Security Council's statement.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said last week that at least 20 Indians had missed an Air Force evacuation flight from Kabul but did not give exact figures. He later said that this figure changed as requests for evacuation were received from Indians stranded there.
Several dozen Indians are still in Afghanistan, down from 1500 last month, it is being said.
At least 140 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus were barred from entering Kabul airport by the Taliban, according to the report.
In order to stand by the Afghans, who supported India, or facing threats from the Taliban or fearing persecution, the government started the e-visa scheme. However, it is not sure how many such fees visas have been given under this arrangement.
Further, India is also concerned over the reported presence in Afghanistan of up to 10,000 fighters from Pakistan-based terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The Haqqani network, which is one of the leading factions of the Taliban and has a strong affiliation with Pakistan's security establishment is also a major worry.
At the end of India's presidency of the UNSC for the month of August, a resolution was adopted, demanding that Afghan soil shouldn’t be used to attack any country or to shelter terrorists.