Even as a multi-member delegation from India met senior members of the Taliban in Kabul on Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the visit should not be characterized as a diplomatic engagement.

It is the first official tour by an Indian delegation to Kabul after the Taliban took over the country in August last year.  A delegation headed by JP Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) in MEA, is in Kabul to “oversee humanitarian assistance” to Afghanistan. JP Singh met Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan

Muttaqi. The delegation also met Taliban leadership in the Afghan capital. They also visited Indian projects like Habiba High School in Kabul. The delegation also met representatives of international organizations that are involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the purpose of the visit is to oversee the delivery operations of our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The team is expected to visit various places where Indian programmes and projects are being implemented. MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi remained non-committal on whether India is going to resume its embassy operations in Kabul. Sources told The Daily Guardian Review that a backchannel communication is open to explore the possibility of how early New Delhi can resume the embassy in Kabul.  Sources said that India is monitoring the situation in Afghanistan in this regard. Sources said that the embassy can be restarted with minimum staff presence.

MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi detailed the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. He informed the media that India had promised 50,000 tonnes of wheat, medicines, half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and others, which had been largely funneled through international bodies like WHO. “They have a process. We have not specified which section should get it. Our effort to ensure it reaches the people is done on our part through international organizations,» he said.

On the possibility of re-opening of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan,  the MEA spokesperson said that the historical and civilizational ties between the two nations would guide India›s approach to the Afghanistani people. “On our Embassy reopening… given the deteriorating situation in August 2021, we had pulled out India-based officials. Local staff continue to be there for maintenance and upkeep of the Embassy premises. Our historical and civilisational ties with Afghan people will guide what we do in Afghanistan,” he said. 

“Our team has gone there (Kabul), and I would not characterize it as diplomatic management. The team is there for the delivery operations of our humanitarian assistance. I don›t see any other element. You›re reading too much into this visit. The Afghan embassy here is operating. There are issues to be resolved. The international community is also looking into it,” he added.