The Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan has requested "robust air support" from India in an unusual development as the confrontation between Afghan government forces and Taliban rebels intensifies.

According to top Afghan government sources, the Afghan government is anxious that the Taliban will "certainly" intensify their level of violence once US forces complete their troop drawdown by August 31, and thus the need for air help from New Delhi is now being actively pressed by Kabul, reported the Print.

Ashraf Ghani
Afghanistan Prime Minister Ashraf GhaniReuters

The request has come amidst the statement by General Kenneth McKenzie, chief of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) who recently said that Washington would stop aerial support to Afghan forces after Aug 31. It is pertinent to note that the request for air support isn't new. The Ghani government is "extremely concerned" that the Taliban may up the ante on Afghan forces across the country as they make rapid progress.

Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar and India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar are thought to have discussed the issue during a recent phone chat. New Delhi, on the other hand, appears to have stated that it will not be able to take "such a drastic step" since India has never believed in such "counterterrorism measures."

Afghan Taliban
Afghan Taliban member.Reuters

India to evacuate its citizens from Mazar-e-Sharif consulate

The Indian government has decided to evacuate its residents in and around Mazar-e-Sharif due to heavy fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban. A special flight from Mazar-e-Sharif to Delhi has been scheduled for Tuesday evening. In an official post on Twitter Indian consulate wrote, "A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi.

All Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening." Those who intend to depart must send their full name, passport number, and expiration date by Whatsapp to 0785891303, 0785891301.