Evacuation from Afghanistan is top priority: Jaishankar

37 leaders from 31 parties attend the all-party meeting

Evacuation from Afghanistan is top priority: Jaishankar

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that India's focus is on evacuation and the government is doing everything to evacuate people from Afghanistan post the Taliban takeover.

Speaking after an all-party meeting on the current situation in Afghanistan, Jaishankar said that the government is very strongly committed to ensuring full evacuation as soon as possible.

"We briefed the floor leaders of all political parties today on the Afghanistan situation today. Our focus is on evacuation and the government is doing everything to evacuate people."

He further informed that under Operation Devi Shakti, the government will try and evacuate Indians from Afghanistan.

"Under Operation 'Devi Shakti' we have done six evacuation flights. We have brought back most of the Indians but not all of them as some of them couldn't make it for the flight yesterday. We will definitely try and bring out everybody. We've also brought out some Afghan citizens," said Jaishankar.

"We are also seeing that in terms of any international decisions which are made, any gatherings that are there, that our role is recognized. There will be many more meetings in the coming days," he said. 

The meeting went on for three and half hours and 37 leaders from 31 parties participated. "Everybody spoke on the issue, I responded to everyone individually. We all had similar views," Jaishankar added.

"There is a longstanding national sentiment on Afghanistan. Therefore there is national concern now at developments. We gathered with a national spirit," he said.

Referring to the strong bond between India and Afghanistan, he said, "Our strong friendship with the people of Afghanistan is reflected in the more than 500 projects we have there. This friendship will continue to guide us. India's footprint and activities naturally keep in mind the ongoing changes."

He also termed the evacuation from Afghanistan as one of the most difficult tasks. "We have undertaken evacuation operations in extremely difficult conditions especially at the airport," he said. 

PM Narendra Modi had asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to brief floor leaders of all political parties on the recent developments in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan plunged into crisis after the Taliban entered the presidential palace in the Afghan capital on August 15 and declared its victory over the government after months of violence across the country.

India, on August 17, had also announced that it would issue an emergency e-visa to Afghan nationals who want to come to the country in view of the prevailing situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban captured power there.

On August 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and instructed all concerned officials to undertake all necessary measures to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days.

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