Sources: Indian consulates in Afghanistan's Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar operational
Even as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is scheduled to visit Tajikistan today to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization of Foreign Ministers and the Contact Group on Afghanistan to review the worsening security situation there, sources told that the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan's Mazar-i-Sharif is still operational.
This development comes just a day after India evacuated about 50 diplomats, officials and security personnel posted at its consulate in Kandahar owing to worsening security situation as the Taliban gains ground in Afghanistan due to NATO and US troop withdrawal.
Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US looked to complete the withdrawal of its forces from there by August-end, ending a nearly two-decade of its military presence in the war-ravaged country.
Amid these developments, India evacuated many of its staff posted in its Kandahar consulate on Sunday while the Ministry of External Affairs clarified that the consulate continues to operate through local staff members.
"Both the Consulates are functional and operational. There is no change in status. We are closely monitoring the situation and developments," an official source here said when asked about the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif in view of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
There were reports that at least two foreign missions in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, have closed their operation due to the escalating violence in the region.
According to officials, India had evacuated around 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar in a military aircraft.
Responding to media queries, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Sunday that India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being from Kandahar in view of the intense fighting near the city and that New Delhi is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan.
India's move to bring back its Indian staff came in the midst of growing global concerns over the Taliban fighters rapidly seizing control of a large number of areas in Afghanistan, triggering huge security concerns.
There were reports that a sizeable number of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists are also operating in the Kandahar and Helmand provinces.