India to resume medical missions in Afghanistan
Kabul: India is set to resume its medical missions in Afghanistan after a fresh reassurance about the safety of its nationals in that country.
"There is no scaling back. We are in the process of resuming full-fledged operations in Afghanistan," said official sources after wide-ranging talks between India's External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday night.
The medical missions, comprising teams of doctors, in Kabul and Kandahar are expected to resume full-fledged operations soon.
India was operating five medical missions in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif.
The medical mission at Mazar-e-Sharif is functioning normally. After a coordinated attack killed nine Indians in Kabul on February 26, India decided to temporarily suspend the other four missions for security reasons.
In his discussions with Karzai, Krishna reiterated India's full support for the ongoing efforts aimed at peace, stability and development in Afghanistan. The meeting, lasting 45 minutes, was very useful and cordial, said external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash.
The move to reopen medical missions, which have treated 300,000 Afghans over the years and earned huge goodwill for India, comes after a fresh assurance from the Afghan government that it would take all possible steps to ensure the safety and security of Indians engaged in development work.
During his meeting with Krishna, Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta assured him that Kabul would take all possible steps to ensure the security of "Indian guests", and lauded India for its contribution to capacity building and reconstruction in that country.
The decision to reopen medical missions come at a time when Pakistan has scaled up efforts to influence power-sharing negotiations in Afghanistan.
Krishna arrived in Kabul on Monday night on a two-day visit to attend a crucial international conference on the future of Afghanistan. The conference is being attended by foreign ministers and representatives of over 60 countries and international organisations.
At the Kabul conference on Tuesday, Krishna is expected to convey India's concerns about the proposed reintegration of the Taliban, a contentious proposal of luring low-level Taliban operatives with cash and job incentives that was endorsed by the London conference on Afghanistan six months ago.