On Thursday, India sent a team led by a senior official from the Ministry of External Affairs to Kabul to oversee and analyze the delivery operations of India’s humanitarian assistance provided to Afghanistan. This is India’s first official visit to Kabul after the Taliban took over the country in August last year.
According to the statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs, the India team will meet the senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on India’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The team will also meet representatives of the International Organisations involved in the distribution of humanitarian assistance.
Key development: India & Taliban— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) June 2, 2022
-Indian govt team in Kabul, led by top diplomat of Pak-Afg-Iran division of MEA
-1st since Taliban takeover
-To oversee Indian humanitarian assistance
-Meet senior Taliban leadership; 3rd acknowledgment of India-Taliban meet
-Visit Indian projects https://t.co/oVyg7cIyJ1
The development comes as India, in response to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people has extended several shipments of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. The shipments sent to Afghanistan consisted of 20,000 MTs of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid vaccine, and winter clothing. These consignments were handed over to the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital, Kabul, and UN specialized agencies including WHO and WFP.
“In continuation with our developmental partnership with Afghan brethren, we have gifted one million doses of India-made COVAXIN to Iran to administer to Afghan refugees in Iran. We have also assisted UNICEF by supplying almost 60 million doses of polio vaccine and two tons of essential medicines”, the official statement read.
“India’s development and humanitarian assistance have received a widespread appreciation across the entire spectrum of the Afghan society. In this connection, the Indian team will meet the senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on India’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan”, it added.
The Ministry also underlined that India has “historical and civilizational ties with the Afghan people” and that “these longstanding linkages will continue to guide our approach”. It is important to note that though India does not recognize the Taliban regime, it has been sending humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Reportedly, on March 22, the Taliban praised India for supplying high-quality wheat. Many Afghans had also expressed their gratitude to India for its generosity.
Reports mention that the Indian team is led by the Joint Secretary, Pakistan Afghanistan Iran (PAI) division, MEA, JP Singh. Last year, Singh had met the Taliban leadership, on the sidelines of the Moscow format of talks on Afghanistan in Delhi. The India team that has been sent to Kabul, Afghanistan is also expected to visit various places where Indian programs and projects are being implemented.