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“India Can Help Afghan People In Difficult Times,” Says Jaishankar

Surat (Gujarat): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday reiterated India’s stance of inclusive, “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled” reconciliation process to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Speaking at a media briefing at the [email protected] event “Conversation of India’s role in global affairs” in Surat, he said, “Tragic things are happening in Afghanistan… India cannot determine what is happening in Afghanistan, Afghans have to determine what is happening in Afghanistan. What India can do, is help Afghan people in a difficult time.” Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the country is facing a severe decline in human rights, women’s rights and religious freedom.

Since the Taliban took over on August 15 last year, the atrocities of Taliban officials have forced the country’s Hindu and Sikh minorities to escape persecution. Gender minorities have either fled or evacuated to other countries.

Notably, Afghan women are staring at a bleak future due to a number of restrictions imposed by the Taliban governing aspects of their lives including the denial of education to girls above 6 standard, they are not allowed to do jobs, females are no longer allowed to travel unless accompanied by men related to them and are being curtailed from wearing make-up as well as their reproductive rights.

Unrecognized by most of the international community, the Taliban-led government has committed to curtailing basic human rights as the citizens of Afghanistan continue to live a miserable life in the country.

“We today have to work with our neighbours… Our neighbours are comfortable with us… But we also must understand neighbours will look to see where they can get an advantage,” said Jaishankar.

India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future.

He also lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts in the digitisation of public services. Recalling his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he said, “Modi was the only CM to understand the power of Aadhar. Because of it, direct benefit transfers could become possible. CoWin portal, PM Awas Yojna, PM Gareeb Kalyan Yojna- nothing would have been possible without it.”

Jaishankar also shared the experience of the evacuation of Indian citizens during the Russia-Ukraine war.

He said that PM Modi had made a call to leaders of Russia and Ukraine to secure assurances for the safe return of Indian students who were stuck in war zones.

Russia started its military operation in Ukraine in the last week of February this year, resulting in a large-scale humanitarian situation. Under operation Ganga, India facilitated the safe return of 22,500 Indian nationals, most of them students, studying in various universities in Ukraine.

“In Ukraine’s Sumy and Kharkiv, PM Modi made a call to Presidents Putin and Zelenskyy, told them our children are stuck… got the assurance that firing will not happen during that period and that is how we were able to get our children out,” said Jaishankar in Surat.

Speaking before a live audience in Surat, Jaishankar said that despite the uncertain global landscape due to COVID-19, climate change and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India continues to project strong business sentiment worldwide.

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