India restores diplomatic presence in Afghanistan

Team is sent to Indian embassy in Kabul to monitor humanitarian assistance

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 17, 2021, security personnel stand guard outside the Afghan embassy in New Delhi.  - Afghan embassies around the world that have refused to recognise the new Taliban regime are struggling to stay afloat and facing increasing pressure from Kabul to accept loyalist replacements.  (Photo by Prakash SINGH  /  AFP)
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India has reopened its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan after a “technical team” arrived at its embassy in Kabul nearly a year after it was closed following the Taliban's dramatic takeover of the war-torn country.

New Delhi said the team was sent to the Indian embassy to monitor humanitarian assistance.

“For the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people, an Indian technical team has reached Kabul today and has been deployed in our Embassy there,” the ministry of external affairs said in a statement on Thursday.

This is India’s first permanent diplomatic presence in Afghanistan since it closed the embassy and flew its ambassador and 120 diplomatic staff out of Kabul in August last year.

An Indian Air Force aircraft with earthquake relief landed in Kabul on Thursday. AP

India has historically shunned the Taliban that it claims is backed by its arch-rival Pakistan and instead favoured other groups that came to power after the US-led coalition toppled the Taliban regime in 2001.

New Delhi had bolstered its ties with previous Afghan governments and maintained a large diplomatic presence in the country, with four consulates and the Kabul embassy operating in Afghanistan.

It pumped more than $3 billion in infrastructure development and other programmes in the country following the defeat of Taliban.

After taking control of Afghanistan, Taliban proposed political, trade, economic and cultural ties with India, saying the country was “very important for this subcontinent”.

While India is unlikely to have a full-fledged diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, it said it was making efforts to oversee the delivery operations of humanitarian assistance and engaging with the Taliban.

New Delhi has sent 27 tonnes of emergency relief assistance for the people in Afghanistan after a deadly earthquake jolted the nation, killing at least 1,000 people.

The relief assistance consists of items including family ridge tents, sleeping bags, blankets and sleeping mats.

“The government of India, as a true first responder, has dispatched 27 tonnes of emergency relief assistance in two flights for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement.

“As always, India stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, with whom we share centuries old ties, and remains firmly committed to provide immediate relief assistance for the Afghan people,” it added.

Updated: June 24, 2022, 6:01 PM