India has sent relief assistance to Afghanistan to help the victims of a powerful earthquake that rocked the country Wednesday along with a “technical team” to be based in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
“India, a true first responder,” Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted Friday.
The 27 tons of relief assistance includes family ridge tents, sleeping bags, blankets and sleeping mats, according to the External Affairs MInistry.
“As always, India stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, with whom we share centuries-old ties, and remain firmly committed to providing immediate relief assistance for the Afghan people,” a ministry statement said.
The ministry also said Thursday that New Delhi has deployed a “technical team” to its Kabul embassy to coordinate the “effective delivery” of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, where India has been sending aid in recent months.
India has sent aid consignments of 20,000 tons of wheat, medicine, half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and winter clothing to Afghanistan.
Sending the technical team to Kabul is being seen as an initial step that could lead to reestablishing India’s diplomatic presence in the country, analysts say.
“ lEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) welcomes decision by India to return diplomats & technical team to their embassy in Kabul to continue their relations with the Afghan people and their humanitarian assistance,” Taliban spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi tweeted.
India’s Kabul embassy was closed and Indian personnel evacuated during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, but earlier this month India sent a team of officials to Afghanistan for the first time, signaling its decision to engage with the Taliban leadership.
India was the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan before the takeover, and had invested around $3 billion in projects that included schools, roads, dams and hospitals.
India wants to rebuild some ties with the country where archenemy Pakistan wields considerable influence. Among regional countries, India alone was left without representation in Afghanistan after the takeover. China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia had not closed their embassies in Kabul.