Aiding Afghans: On G20 meeting on Afghanistan

India could contribute to international agencies working with displaced Afghans

The PM’s words are a welcome sign that the Government remains seized of the welfare of ordinary Afghans even as New Delhi has closed its embassy but maintains only a limited exchange with Taliban officials in Doha. Given the manner of the Taliban’s takeover in August, with support from Pakistan, maintaining links with terror groups including those that target India leaves the Government hard put to increase its engagement, or to send aid directly to the new regime. But India could contribute to international agencies that are working with displaced Afghans, particularly for about one million children at the risk of starvation. It could also help Iran and the Central Asian states that are housing refugees with monetary assistance. The Government could also consider liberalising its visa regime for Afghans, which at the moment has cancelled all prior visas to Afghan nationals, and is releasing very few e-visas for Afghans desperate to travel here. As a goodwill gesture, India could once again send food aid, including wheat, grain, fortified biscuits and other packaged food, directly to Kabul. Clearly, the imperative to act is now, at what the UN Secretary General has called a “make or break” moment for the Afghan people, and to heed the warning that if the international community, which includes a regional leader like India, does not help stave off the unfolding humanitarian crisis, not only Afghans but also the rest of the world will pay a “heavy price”.

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