New Delhi: Following reports that some passports of Afghan nationals with Indian visas have been “misplaced” in Kabul, India on Wednesday announced that all Afghan nationals must travel to India only on e-visa, adding that “previously issued visas to all Afghan nationals, who are presently not in India, stand invalidated with immediate effect”.
New Delhi further said that this has been done “owing to the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and streamlining of the visa process by introduction of the e-Emergency X-Misc visa”.
It may be recalled that New Delhi had recently said that visas for Afghan nationals would be given through an e-Emergency visa facility. India had earlier ceased all diplomatic presence in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover there.
India’s move on Wednesday is significant in view of media reports that claimed that Afghan passports with Indian visas had been stolen from a travel agency in Kabul with a group backed by Pakistan spy agency ISI and that the major security scare had led to India cancelling all old Afghan visas as these passports could have been misused by Pakistan-based terror groups.
However, there was no official word specifically on these reports other than saying that some of the passports had been reportedly “misplaced”.
In a statement, the MEA said, “Owing to the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and streamlining of the visa process by introduction of the e-Emergency X-Misc visa, it has been decided that all Afghan nationals henceforth must travel to India only on e-Visa. Keeping in view some reports that certain passports of Afghan nationals have been misplaced, previously issued visas to all Afghan nationals, who are presently not in India, stand invalidated with immediate effect. Afghan nationals wishing to travel to India may apply for e-Visa ... .”
Meanwhile, India is looking to evacuate the very few Indian nationals remaining in Afghanistan as well as some Afghan Sikhs and Hindus as well as some other Afghan nationals who had worked in Indian-assisted development projects in the strife-torn nation. With the US ramping up evacuations to meet its August 31 deadline from the American-controlled Kabul airport, the airport in the Afghan Capital continues to face severe pressure. New Delhi is awaiting more landing slots, having operated flights from the Afghan Capital in the past few days as well as from Qatar’s Capital Doha and the Tajik Capital Dushanbe where evacuees had been airlifted to earlier, from Kabul.
External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar also continued his consultations with foreign ministers on the situation in Afghanistan, speaking to his British counterpart Dominic Raab and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir. The EAM tweeted, “Spoke to UK Foreign Secretary @Dominicraab this afternoon. Our conversation focused on developments in Afghanistan.” The EAM also tweeted, “Good conversation with Saudi MoS for Foreign Affairs @AdelAljubeir. Discussed regional and multilateral issues. Welcomed relaxation of Covid restrictions on travel. Hope to see further progress.”