-Pulls RAW operatives, diplomats from Kandahar
-Indian military planes airlift officials, drop weapons at Kandahar
-Air defence system installed at Kabul airport as Taliban gain ground
NEW DELHI: Two Indian planes landed in Afghanistan’s Kandahar to airlift its team of a diplomatic mission serving there apparently, only to emerge later that it dropped ammunition in the guise of it to be used against Afghan Taliban.
The entire episode exposed the double game of the Indian authorities, who on one hand are trying to engage the Taliban team in Doha in talks while on the other hand providing the Afghan forces with ammunition to be used against them in the guise of airlifting its diplomatic mission in Kandahar.
According to details of the entire episode, two C-130 planes of India landed in Afghanistan on 10 and 11 July to airlift their team of diplomats in Kandahar. The plane on July 10 dropped 40 tonnes of ammunition of 122-mm cannon and delivered the same consignment the next day.
Meanwhile, India said on Sunday it had ‘temporarily’ brought back officials from its consulate in Kandahar, a major city in southern Afghanistan, as Taliban fighters continue to gain control amid the withdrawal of international forces. “Due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being,” Arindam Bagchi, chief spokesperson at India’s foreign ministry, said in a statement.
“India is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan,” Bagchi said, adding that India’s consulate in Kandahar was being run by local staff temporarily.
It is pertinent to mention here that earlier in the day, a report emerged that India has evacuated around 50 diplomats and other staff members of the Kandahar consulate in Afghanistan in view of the “intense fighting near Kandahar city.
Taliban officials said on Friday the group had taken control of 85% of Afghanistan’s territory, as the United States and others withdraw the bulk of their troops after 20 years of fighting. Afghan government officials dismissed the assertion as a propaganda campaign.
India’s foreign minister on Friday called for a reduction of violence, saying the situation in the war-torn nation has a direct bearing on regional security.
At a press conference in Moscow on Friday, Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar said that “85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory” is under the group’s control, including some 250 of the country’s 398 districts.
“All administrative bodies and hospitals continue their work on this territory. We ensured their functionality,” he said, calling on international organisations “not to interrupt their missions.”
Delawar said that the US withdrawal was a result of the Taliban bringing Afghanistan’s population over to its side under the “principle of Islam”.
“The United States was forced to leave our territory,” he said. He added that there was no agreement with the United States for the Taliban not to attack administrative centres remaining under Kabul’s control. “These are our internal affairs,” Delawar said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Kabul airport has been fitted with an air defence system to counter incoming rockets, officials said on Sunday, as the Taliban pressed on with a blistering offensive across the country.
Washington and its allies are due to end their military mission in Afghanistan at the end of next month, even as the insurgents say they now control 85 per cent of the country — a claim impossible to independently verify and disputed by the government.
The fundamentalist group’s rapid gains in recent weeks have raised fears about the security of the capital and its airport, with NATO keen to secure a vital exit route to the outside world for foreign diplomats and aid workers.
“The newly installed air defence system has been operational in Kabul since 2:00 am Sunday,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “The system has proven useful in the world in repelling rocket and missile attacks.”
Interior ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian told media it had been installed at the airport, though officials did not offer details about the type of system or who had installed it.
The Taliban have regularly launched rockets and mortars at government forces across the countryside, with the Islamic State group also known as Daesh carrying out similar strikes on the capital in 2020.
Daesh also claimed responsibility for a rocket attack this year at Bagram Air base, the biggest US military facility in the country, which was recently handed over to Afghan forces.
Over the years the US military installed several C-RAMs (Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar Systems) across its bases, including at Bagram, to destroy incoming rockets targeting the facilities, a foreign security official and media reports said.
The C-RAMS includes cameras to detect incoming rockets and alert local forces.