When the entire council of ministers in Afghanistan, listed in US or UN Terror List took oath on Wednesday to form a government in Kabul, another equally sensitive meeting was held in New Delhi with a call for countries to come together and take stock of the situation.
Russia and India did hold talks on Wednesday described as high-level inter-governmental consultations on Afghanistan. Shortly after the meeting between Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev and Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, it was announced on the official Twitter handle: "High level inter-governmental consultations on Afghanistan held today in New Delhi between delegation led by NSA Ajit Doval & delegation led by Secretary of Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev. Two sides had detailed discussions on situation in Afghanistan."
Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson of MEA, did not elaborate on what is India's current status on Afghanistan. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, also tweeted soon after stating, "Glad to meet Secretary of Security Council of Russia, Nikolay Patrushev. Very useful discussions on Afghanistan." Official sources, earlier in the week, had said that India is in close contact with both Moscow and Washington over the Afghanistan situation.
Accordingly, an American delegation of intelligence and security officials, led by Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns, is visiting both India and Pakistan and held consultations with National Security Adviser (NSA) on Tuesday, to discuss the large number of issues arising out of Taliban takeover, as reports said.
In addition, PM Narendra Modi is expected to virtually attend the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) meeting and also QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia) meeting to be held in the US on September 24.
The background and the challenges
It must be noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin and PM Modi discussed the Afghanistan situation on August 24 over a phone call. Russia said that the two leaders agreed on forming a permanent bilateral channel or a platform to hold constant discussions on the issue and alongside, also expressed their willingness to counter the terrorist and drug threat emanating from Afghanistan.
Russian Embassy still functional in Kabul
As India and Russia take further steps towards deepening bilateral cooperation, it is pertinent to also note that the Russian Embassy is among the few still functioning in Afghanistan. While most foreign countries have either closed, suspended or relocated their embassies after the evacuation, a few are still operational.
Apart from Russia, Pakistan embassy is also functional in Kabul. Chinese embassy is said to be functioning normally, with the Taliban even reportedly having pledged to ensure its safety.
Taliban takes over, officially
Taliban, on Tuesday, announced its acting government led by Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund and Abdul Ghani Baradar for a deputy Prime Minister. The caretaker or 'acting' government comprises of all-male, 33-member Cabinet.
As was expected and feared, the organisation handed over the key posts to those in the inner echelons of the group. On the Taliban's new cabinet formation, US State Department spokesperson issued a statement that "the world is watching closely." He also underscored the track records of some cabinet members and how no woman was included.
Continuing India's efforts to face the Afghan situation, NSA Ajit Doval will be attending a virtual summit of BRICS Countries on Thursday and present security issues before the members, including Russian President Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.