Situation In Afghanistan Changes Fast, India Flies Kandahar Diplomats Home

SRINAGAR: The situation in Afghanistan is changing every next minute. The latest is that two districts in Ghor province have fallen to the Taliban as battles are ragging on the outskirts of at least 10 other cities.

Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov meets with Afghan and Taliban representatives in Moscow ahead of a conference for the centennial anniversary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan’s incumbent President., Ashraf Ghani

“Sources said that Taiwara and Pasaband districts in Ghor have fallen to the Taliban in the last 24 hours,” Afghan news gatherer Tolo News reported. The other cities where the Afghanistan army is fighting the Taleban include Pul-e-Khumri in Baghlan, Taluqan in Takhar, Qala-e-Naw in Badghis, Sheberghan in Jawzjan, Maidan Shahr in Maidan Wardak, Ghazni city in Ghazni, Kandahar city in Kandahar and Lashkargah in Helmand province. “In Takhar, a former mujahideen commander and a commander of public uprising forces, Gen. Gul Agha Qataghani, was killed in a clash with the Taliban on Friday.”

Right now Kandhar is witnessing pitched battles even as Kabul said it has defeated the Taliban. “The Defense Ministry said that at least 200 Taliban fighters were killed and over 200 others were wounded in clashes in the last 24 hours. The Taliban has rejected these figures,” Tolo News reported. “Over the last 24 hours, 16 bodies and 57 wounded people have been taken to hospitals in the city of Kandahar due to clashes, health officials from the province said.”

India Evacuates 50 Officials

In wake of massive battles, Hindustan Times reported that India has “evacuated about 50 officials and security personnel from Kandahar – the second largest city in Afghanistan – in an air force aircraft” on Saturday.

A top Taliban leader shaking hands with the former US Secretary of State Mike Pampeo during his special visit to Qatar an intra-Afghan dialogue is in progress for over a year but without any visible outcome.

“The consulate general of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being,” External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was quoted saying. “India is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan. The safety and security of our personnel is paramount.” He, however, termed the evacuations “purely temporary measure”.

India’s consulates in Herat and Jalalabad stand closed since April owing to Covid19 pandemic.

The evacuations coincided with the Kabul envoy in Delhi seeking support to fight the Taliban.

“Our assessment is [that] if we have the required air support, Taliban would never be able to capture any district. And just to give you one instance, should we have 15 to 20 Mi-35 helicopters, or 30 to 40 Black Hawks, they would not be able to hold ground,” Afghan ambassador Farid Mamundzay was quoted saying by Hindustan Times on Friday. ““Taliban have the same equipment, weapons and ammunition that we have. Our superiority lies in air support and we appreciate the support that the US has recently promised, that they would support us with more air support. We call on all responsible countries in the region, including Russia, Iran and India, to provide us the required air support.”

The newspaper said the Afghan envoy ruled out the possibility of seeking Indian boots on the ground but asserted Delhi could assist Kabul with military hardware, intelligence and logistics support and financial resources in the fight against regional and international terrorist groups.

Unsupportive Pakistan

Mamundzay said Pakistan is not supporting the way it was expected. “We expected Pakistan to play a very constructive role to bring Taliban to the negotiating table, use that influence that the Pakistanis used to help the Americans…We expected the government of Pakistan to help us in the same manner, in the same spirit so that Kabul and Taliban reach a dignified and lasting deal,” the envoy said. “We sadly have not seen the kind of role that we expected Islamabad to play. I hope in the weeks ahead, that calculus will change and they will begin to play a more constructive role.”

Tolo News, however, said the Kabul and Islamabad have signed the 6-month extension of the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) on Thursday.

Trade Issues Settled

“Afghan and Pakistani officials said that 95 per cent of problems in the way of trade and transit between the two countries have been solved,” the Kabul news gatherer said. “The only problem that has remained is Pakistan’s opposition to imports of Indian goods through Pakistan to Afghanistan, Afghan Minister of Industry and Commerce Nisar Ahmad Ghoryani said.”

“The issue that is left is a political issue between them (India and Pakistan) that we don’t have the right to interfere. We had progressed in this respect too. We will also get the permission so that the goods are sent to Central Asia,” Ghoryani was quoted saying. “Political issues have always had impacts on our trade activities. We hope that politics is removed from trade” it quoted Yunus Mohmand, the deputy minister of Afghan industry and commerce, saying.

Kabul Airport

Meanwhile, Afghan authorities have installed an anti-missile system at Kabul airport to counter incoming Taliban rockets. “The newly installed air defence system has been operational in Kabul since 2:00 am Sunday,” the interior ministry said in a statement, according to AFP. “The system has proven useful in the world in repelling rocket and missile attacks.”

Army spokesman Ajmal Omar Shinwari said the system was given by “our foreign friends” and is being operated by “our foreign friends.”

Turkey has promised to provide security for Kabul airport once US and NATO troops leave next month. However, the Taliban have asked Turkey to leave Afghanistan as it entered with the invaders.

Though the Taliban have claimed to have controlled almost 85 per cent of Afghanistan, Kabul administration has rejected the claim. The Taliban has the momentum right now in Afghanistan as it has gained control over more territories than ever before, the Pentagon acknowledged on Sunday.

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