New Delhi: The Taliban government has said it will ask India to grant visas to Afghan students enrolled in Indian educational institutions but who have not yet been able to return to resume their classes after the lifting of COVID-related restrictions -19.
This was announced by Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi during a meeting with Afghan students at the Foreign Ministry in Kabul on Monday July 4, according to his deputy spokesman, Hafiz Zia Ahmad.
In a series of tweets, Ahmad said the students had asked Muttaqi to help them “resume suspended classes, issue visas and travel to India.”
Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi received Afghan students to hear their problems. The students asked the Foreign Minister to help them resume their suspended classes, issue visas and travel to India.
It should be noted that due to the spread of pic.twitter.com/nq7B27xiCC
— Hafiz Zia Ahmad (@HafizZiaAhmad1) July 4, 2022
The Taliban minister assured his audience that he “would instruct the services concerned to report the students’ demands to the Indian Embassy and to find a solution to their problems”.
This is the first time that Taliban leaders have indicated that they will speak directly with Indian authorities to allow Afghan students to resume their studies in India.
The Indian embassy has recently reopened but is only occupied by low-ranking diplomats. This is done ostensibly to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid. India has still not granted official diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government.
Before the fall of the Islamic Republic and the return of the Taliban last August, India had aggressively lured Afghan students into Indian educational institutions with hundreds of scholarships each year. Over the past decade, the Indian government has sponsored at least 1,000 annual scholarships for Afghans. Besides, many Afghan students have also come to study in India with their own funds.
According to the Afghan Embassy, more than 13,000 Afghan students are enrolled in Indian institutions. However, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has caused many people to return home, with institutions closing and moving exclusively to online education.
Even as the pandemic waned and universities opened, the Taliban’s military conquest of Afghanistan in August 2021 led India to withdraw its diplomatic presence, and the issuance of visas to Afghans dwindled to a negligible net.
Eleven months later, there is not much hope left for students languishing at home, waiting to resume their classes in India.
In response to tweets from the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry deputy spokesperson, Afghan students said they had been waiting for Indian visas for months.
Before the fall of the Islamic Republic and the return of the Taliban last August, India had aggressively lured Afghan students into Indian educational institutions with hundreds of scholarships each year.
Last month, the Afghan ambassador to Sri Lanka also highlighted the concerns of Afghan students who had not been able to resume their classes.
Afghan students stranded under the mismanagement of terrorists in Afghanistan call for @PMOIndia @Narendra Modi ji to help expedite their visa processing so they can resume their studies in #India. They believe that education is the best weapon against the extremism imposed on Afghanistan. https://t.co/wDFWwPyX5z
— Ambassador Mr. Ashraf Haidari (@MAshrafHaidari) June 22, 2022