India Suspends Afghan Aid Programmes; Indian Businesses, Charity Cut Staff

India has suspended its medical aid and teaching programmes in Afghanistan, with Indian businesses and charities already cutting staff over apprehensions that they are being increasingly targeted by terrorists, reported AFP.

According to report, Indians based in Kabul believe that the three recent attacks in the Afghan capital specifically targeted them.

Most recently, February 26 bombing and gun assault on a guest house in which 17 people were killed targeted seven Indians.

Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), an Indian charity, which promoted independence for Afghan women, said that it had pulled all staff from Afghanistan, report said.

“At the moment there is no one on behalf of SEWA in Kabul because after the 26 February disaster we were advised to come back (to India),” SEWA’s Afghanistan coordinator Pratibha Pandiya was quoted as saying.

Indian authorities said that a December 15 suicide car bombing that killed eight people also targeted Indians, although former Afghan first vice president Ahmad Zia Massoud had a home in the same street.

The manager of an IT company said that his Indian staff had since halved to 11, said report.

“We cannot stop people from leaving and we cannot guarantee anyone’s safety,” the manager, also an Indian, was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity and asking that his company also not be named.

“Our office and residences are like fortresses,” he was quoted as saying, adding that extra security promised by the Afghan government had yet to materialise.

Indians in Kabul said that they see themselves as victims of a struggle with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, which is fuelling attacks on Indian interests in the country, report said.

Currently, about 4,000 Indians are building roads, sanitation projects and power lines in the volatile country. India is building the new Afghan parliament.

An embassy official said that doctors were also recruited from the Indian military for India’s medical mission (IMM) to Afghanistan, which focused on five cities, providing free treatment and medicine for 30,000 Afghans each month, said report.

He said that the IMM had been temporarily suspended as those members of the 11-man team who survived the attack were repatriated for treatment, report said.

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