Course Conducted by MEA for Taliban Staff in Kabul Angers Afghan Students: Report

The Hindu reports that Afghan students, who have been unable to get a visa for India to complete their education for two years now, are angry. Several have termed the decision “contrary to India’s policy” and “disappointing”. The MEA is yet to comment.

New Delhi: An internal memo circulated within the offices of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in Dari language, and also accessible online, cites the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign affairs as claiming that it has received intimation of a course from the Indian technical mission in Kabul, which is to be conducted for the Taliban staff in Afghanistan.

“The Embassy of India in Kabul, via note verbale No. Kabul/nv/2023/05 dated 23/01/2023 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has announced the organization of a short-term online training program for the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” a translated version of the memo said, adding that the special course, titled “Immersing with India thoughts” would be held from today to Friday.

A report in The Hindu says that there is anger amongst Afghan students unable to get visas for completing their education in India, as New Delhi went ahead and cancelled all existing visas after the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The newspaper cites diplomatic sources to say that not a single new visa has been granted for students wishing to travel to India. These include students who went home to Afghanistan mid-studies due to the CoOVID-19 lockdown and couldn’t return and also nearly a thousand students who won scholarships from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in 2021.

Photo: Special arrangement

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has refused any comment on the memo. India has said it doesn’t recognise the Taliban regime that captured power by in Kabul in August 2021, and does not recognise their documents as official. However, sources said that the course described is sponsored by the MEA’s Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, open to students “across the world, including in Afghanistan”. The possibility that some of those applying for the course would belong to the Taliban regime’s staff has also not been denied.

“This is only an online course — available across the world, including to Afghan students. While none of the students is being invited to India, we are not discriminating against Afghan nationals, and anyone can avail of the course,” a government official told The Hindu, emphasising that India does not recognise the Taliban, its ministry, or its diplomats.

Onib Dadgar, 28, said he was “shocked and disappointed” to read about the online courses that would be open to Taliban officials and diplomats in Kabul. The newspaper reports on other angry Afghan students, who are without a visa for two years. Several have termed the decision “contrary to India’s policy” and “disappointing”.

The Taliban regime is not recognised by any country. But India is amongst the few countries that have a diplomatic mission in Kabul. India’s mission was shut down in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover due to security reasons and reopened only in June 2022 as a “technical mission”.