• Saturday, June 25, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Britain says we’re not going back after Taliban takes control

People run towards the Kabul Airport Terminal, after Taliban insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul. Jawad Sukhanyar/via Reuters)

By: Sattwik Biswal

THE situation is ‘extremely fluid and unpredictable’ on the ground after Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Indian officials said.

While Britain’s defence secretary said on Monday (16) that British and NATO forces will not be returning to fight the Taliban.

“I acknowledge that the Taliban are in control of the country,” Ben Wallace told Sky News.
“I mean, you don’t have to be a political scientist to spot that’s where we’re at.”

Asked if Britain and NATO would return to Afghanistan, Wallace said: “That’s not on the cards that we’re going to go back”

Members of British Forces from 16 Air Assault Brigade upon arrival in Kabul to provide support to British nationals leaving the country. (RAF/UK Ministry of Defence 2021/Handout via REUTERS)

Wallace said the military side of Kabul airport was secure and that Britain was doing everything it could to evacuate British citizens and Afghans with links to Britain.

“Our target is … about 1200 to 1500 exit a day in the capacity of our aeroplanes, and we’ll keep that flow,” he said.

Britain has relocated its embassy to Kabul airport from the city. Asked what he would feel to see the Taliban flag flying over the former British embassy building in Kabul, Wallace said: “It’s not the embassy anymore, we have left that location … so it’s now just a building.

“Symbolically, it’s not what any of us wanted.”

Wallace said it was not yet the right time to decide on whether to recognise the Taliban as the Afghan government.

“I think there is a lot of more to come before those decisions are made,” he said.

Evacuation of Indians

An Air India on Sunday (15) evacuated 129 passengers. However, the commercial aircraft, AI 243, faced difficulty while landing and had to circle over Kabul for some time as countries raced against time to evacuate their citizens with Taliban taking control.

NDTV reports more than 200 Indians including Foreign Ministry staff and paramilitary personnel are yet to be evacuated from the Afghan capital.

A scheduled flight failed to leave for India following chaos at the airport when desperate people overran the tarmac this morning trying to flee the country, now in control of the Taliban.

The Afghanistan airspace on Monday (16) was declared “uncontrolled” by the Kabul airport and transit flights have been asked to avoid it. A big concern for India would be to safely transport the staff from the Indian mission compound to the airport.

People try to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Reuters Photo)

Air India has been asked by the Government of India to keep two aircraft on standby for the Kabul evacuation.

“Two aircraft with a proper set of the flight crew are on standby for Kabul evacuation. The government is monitoring the situation very closely,” the government official told ANI.

Johnson intervenes over visas for Afghan students

Meanwhile, the British prime minister Boris Johnson has promised the government will try to help 35 Afghan students get visas to travel to the UK, after they were blocked by the Foreign Office from taking up British scholarships this year, The Guardian reported.

Johnson intervened to say efforts would be made to accelerate their visas amid fears among the students that their scholarships could make them targets of the Taliban, the report added.

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