Indian evacuation from Kabul on verge of completion, 2 more flights today
The Ministry of External Affairs and National Security team worked its heart out by engaging officials from Tehran to Washington via Doha to get Indian nationals evacuated from Afghanistan.
With Modi’s government’s mission Kabul entering its end phase with two more evacuation flights landing from Afghanistan today, the Ministry of External Affairs and National Security set-up have achieved what looked to be impossible on August 15, the day the Taliban captured Kabul. Two more evacuation flights are expected to land from Kabul on Monday with the total number of Indians evacuated from Afghanistan in the excess of 700. Already, six flights, a mixture of Indian Air Force and Air India, have completed their missions with the evacuation starting on August 16.
According to diplomats based in Delhi and Kabul, the evacuation of Indians from Kabul involved multi-pronged diplomatic and security manoeuvres with Indian interlocutors led by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the national security planners talking to top officials in Washington, Doha, Dushanbe, Tashkent, Ankara and of course Kabul at the same time.
Even after the US cut out a deal with the Taliban on exiting Afghanistan, the evacuation process is a complex exercise given the multiple levels of security screenings each evacuee has to pass under the barrel of M-4 carrying trigger-happy Islamist fighters of the Taliban and sundry groups. While the Hamid Karzai international airport operations are being handled by the US Rangers, the first perimeter protection is with Turkish Forces and the second perimeter protection with Taliban, who have multiple blockades and check-posts throughout the Capital en route to Kabul. Even after the buses carrying evacuees manages to reach the airport, the Turkish forces open fire on the Afghan refugees thronging the airport. Since the refugees have little respect for any firing in the air, there have been instances of direct firing to make way for the evacuation process as a result of which many people have been killed. After the Taliban have searched the evacuees and Turkish have let through the vehicle, the US forces do full screening before the passengers are allowed to board the flight.
By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 23, 2021 12:46 PM IST