India has started evacuating its nationals from Afghanistan as the Taliban advance escalates in the war-ravaged country.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif asked all its nationals in the largest city of northern Afghanistan to leave the country on a "special flight" and urged them to contact the diplomatic mission at the earliest.
"A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today (Tuesday) evening," the Indian consulate tweeted.
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All Indian diplomatic staff and their family members have already been evacuated from the three other consulates in Afghanistan -- Kandahar, Jalalabad and Herat, foreign ministry sources told UNB.
There are still 1,500 Indian nationals staying in Afghanistan, according to official data.
Meanwhile, in a security advisory on Tuesday, the Indian Embassy in Kabul asked all Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan to keep themselves updated on the availability of commercial flights and make immediate arrangements to return to India.
The Taliban are, in fact, advancing at a rapid pace in Afghanistan as American troops embark on a withdrawal mode. US President Joe Biden has already confirmed that the American troops will end their 20-year military presence in Afghanistan by this month-end.
India is worried about the implications of the American troops leaving Afghanistan, given the fact that it has so far infused over three billion US dollars worth development aid into that country and the horrific memories of the Taliban's role in the hijacking of an airliner in 1999.