India always provided strong support to minority communities in Afghanistan: Harsh Vardhan Shringla

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August 31, 2021 10:41 AM

Last week, India brought back 78 people, including 25 of its nationals and a number of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus from Dushanbe, a day after they were evacuated from Taliban-besieged Kabul to the Tajik city.

Harsh Vardhan ShringlaForeign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. (Photo source: IE)

India has always provided very strong support to minority communities in Afghanistan, particularly Sikhs and Hindus, and it is an important part of New Delhi’s effort to evacuate those Afghan nationals who want to leave the war-ravaged country, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said. Last week, India brought back 78 people, including 25 of its nationals and a number of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus from Dushanbe, a day after they were evacuated from Taliban-besieged Kabul to the Tajik city.

The group along with three copies of the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, was airlifted from Kabul to Dushanbe by a military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Monday.

With Tuesday’s evacuation, the number of people brought back to Delhi reached over 800 since August 16 when the first group was airlifted from Kabul, a day after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital city. India carried out the evacuation missions in coordination with the US and several other friendly countries.

Shringla chaired a Security Council meeting on Monday on the situation in Afghanistan during which the 15-nation Council adopted a resolution that ”reaffirms the importance of upholding human rights including those of women, children and minorities”. It encourages all parties to seek an inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, that responds to the desire of Afghans to sustain and build on Afghanistan’s gains over the last 20 years in adherence to the rule of law, and underlines that all parties must respect their obligations.

Later speaking to reporters at the UN Security Council stakeout, Shringla emphasised that the UNSC resolution on Afghanistan also highlights the importance of upholding human rights, in particular in the case of women, children and minorities.

“India has always provided a very strong support to minority communities in Afghanistan, in particular, the Sikh and Hindu minority communities and it is an important part of our effort to try and bring those Afghan nationals, including minorities, who want to leave Afghanistan and evacuate them.” Shringla stressed that the resolution in that sense has indicated a need for ”developing a safe zone for the passage of travellers in and out of Kabul airport, which is indeed a very positive development.” “So all in all, I would say that the resolution highlights the will of the Council to take necessary steps that are very important for the international community in its engagement with Afghanistan. And as far as we’re concerned, we are extremely happy as a neighbour of Afghanistan, to be part of this important process of continued engagement on this very very important issue,” he said.

The resolution notes the Taliban statement of August 27 in which the militant group committed that Afghans will be able to travel abroad, may leave Afghanistan anytime they want to, may exit the country via any border crossing, both air and ground, including at the reopened and secured Kabul airport, with no one preventing them from traveling. The resolution notes that it expects that the Taliban will adhere to these and all other commitments, including regarding the safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals.

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