Speaking at an event in New York, the External Affairs Minister recalled how Prime Minister Modi kept himself abreast of developments when India evacuated its own citizens from Afghanistan in 2021 following a Taliban takeover.
# watch | NY, US: Referring to India’s evacuation efforts from Afghanistan, EAM Jaishankar said, “It was past midnight… The Prime Minister called me, his first question was – “Wake up?”… I informed him that help was coming. He told me to call him when it’s done… It’s a singular quality.” pic.twitter.com/AxL7Ddp6d6
— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
“We were juggling for the phone and keeping courage at the (other) end. My phone rang. Usually there is no caller ID when the Prime Minister calls. It took me by surprise,” the Union minister said.
The foreign minister described the events before citizens were evacuated from Mazar-e-Sharif, a city in northern Afghanistan near Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The city fell to the Taliban days before the terrorist group took control of Kabul.
Jaishankar during the attack on the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif spoke about negotiating the evacuation of Indian nationals with a foreign warlord who would help in the process.
(1/2) A special flight leaves from Mazar-e-Sharif for New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India on special flights scheduled to depart this evening.
— Mazar India (@IndianConsMazar) August 10, 2021
“A caller ID usually has someone connecting you. This time too he was the Prime Minister. His first question was – wake up? (Are you awake?) At 12:30 of course, what else do I do? In his life, it must be normal,” joked Jaishankar, to which the crowd responded with laughter.
“Well, are you watching TV?” (Are you watching television) I replied ‘haan sir, TV dekha rahe’ to which he asked ‘well, kya ho raha hai wahaan’ (what is the situation there),” Jaishankar said.
“Attack chal raha hai (but) help is on the way,” Jaishankar said in his response to the prime minister.
“Well, jab khatam ho jaye mujhe phone kar deen” (When it’s over), PM Modi replied.
Jaishankar said, ‘Sir, it will take three hours. Jab ho jaye my aap ke yahan bata dunga (Sir, it will take 2-3 hours and I will inform (your office/assistants) when it is done.”
The foreign minister said there was a pause. “Mujhe phone kar dena (Tell me over the phone when it’s done),” PM Modi told his foreign minister.
S Jaishankar highlighted that in evacuating Indians from Taliban-occupied Afghanistan, PM Modi took a tough decision even during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Good times or bad times, he’s there,” said S Jaishankar.
Diplomats and officials from the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif were repatriated on a special flight ahead of August 15, 2021 – the day Taliban forces captured Kabul. India has also closed its consulates in the Afghan capitals of Kabul and Herat, as well as other major cities such as Kandahar.
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