External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said a team of Indian diplomats, except the ambassador, have gone to Afghanistan as India will continue its people-to-people relationship in view of its long historic ties with the Afghan society.
He said the Indian diplomats had left the embassy in Afghanistan in August last year due to the situation then, and a batch of diplomats has now gone back.
According to him, the Afghan staff who were hired there continue to be there and India will pay them. "What we decided was that we would send the Indian diplomats back to the embassy, not the ambassador, and make sure that they are able to function and able to address a lot of these issues -- humanitarian assistance, the medical assistance, the vaccine, the development projects, etc., Jaishankar told reporters here during an interaction programme.
"So at the moment, what we have is a team of Indian diplomats who have gone there, Jaishankar said. Speaking about Afghanistan after August 15 last year when the Taliban took over the country, the External Affairs Minister said: "We have taken a very considered deliberated view that our relationship at the end of the day is with the people of Afghanistan, to the society and that it is a relationship which is deep enough and in a sense, historically long enough for us to actually find ways of factoring in these political changes and continuing that people-to-people, so like a relationship.
He said when there was a food crisis in Afghanistan with a "very extreme demand for wheat", India supplied them 40,000 tonne of food grain. Transporting wheat to Afghanistan "was also a very complex diplomatic exercise because we had to persuade the Pakistanis to allow them to go through Pakistan, which we did", the minister said.
India also supplied COVID-19 vaccine to Afghanistan and addressed their medical issues by supplying medicines because India has set up hospitals and clinics, including a paediatric hospital in Kabul, he explained. This apart, India carried out a lot of development projects in Afghanistan as well.Speaking about Chabahar, he said the port city in Iran remains "still relevant". "If I may have to send goods to Afghanistan, Pakistan may not always allow me to do it and sometimes I may also not want to use that route. So, I will then use Chabahar," Jaishankar said. "I think Chabahar remains very much a factor and it will remain a logistical hub, which we will use, both for Central Asia and northwards to Russia as also for Afghanistan," he added.