India re-establishes diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, deploys technical team | Latest News India

NEW DELHI: India restored a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan on Thursday, where it withdrew all its officials after the Taliban takeover in August last year, deploying a “technical team” at the embassy in Kabul.

Following the closure of Indian consulates in Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif, India has withdrawn all its officials and security personnel from Kabul following the fall of the government of Ashraf Ghani, largely due to security concerns. Recent contacts with the Taliban – both behind the scenes and formal meetings – paved the way for the return of Indian officials to Kabul.

The technical team reached Kabul on Thursday and was deployed to the embassy to “closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid and to continue our engagement with the Afghan people,” the foreign ministry said. in a statement. pronunciation.

The statement placed the restoration of India’s diplomatic presence in the context of the country’s “historical and civilizational relationship with the Afghan people” – implying that the move did not amount to any recognition of the Taliban position in Kabul.

The statement also referred to the recent visit to Kabul by an Indian team led by Joint Secretary JP Singh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ liaison officer for Afghanistan, to oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid and to meet with senior officials. Taliban members. “A security situation assessment was also carried out during the visit,” the organization said.

“Our longstanding ties to Afghan society and our development partnership, including humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan, will continue to guide our approach going forward,” the statement said.

The statement did not include details of the tech team, such as its size, though people familiar with the matter said India’s presence in Kabul will be very limited. The team is expected to be led by a middle diplomat and will focus primarily on consular issues, delivering humanitarian aid and potentially reviving development projects.

Several factors, including security guarantees from the Taliban leadership and the perception that India could not stay out of the picture as regional players such as China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia bolster their presence in Kabul, were behind the decision to send Indian officials back to Kabul.

The above people said an Indian team would travel from New Delhi to Kabul on June 18 on an Afghan airline charter flight, but the move was delayed after a terror attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan in the Afghan capital then claimed by the Khorasan unit of the Islamic State.

The attack did not lead to a reconsideration of the deployment of Indian officials in Kabul, but only delayed it, the people said.

“Such attacks were factored into the decision-making process. The Taliban have provided security guarantees and pledged to crack down on Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. They’ve never done this in the past,” says one of the individuals mentioned above.

The people said the Taliban had advance information about a possible attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan and that they had tightened security at the Sikh shrine. This is believed to be one of the reasons why the attack was thwarted with only two dead, an Afghan Sikh and a guard, and the murder of all three attackers.

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