Speaking at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan, Jaishankar said India was monitoring developments with “understandable concern”.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said India was monitoring developments with “understandable concern” in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban. Stating that the war-torn country was passing through a critical and challenging phase, Jaishankar said there was an imminent threat to rising poverty levels and the same could have a catastrophic effect on regional stability.

Jaishankar, who spoke at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan on Monday, said, “Afghanistan is passing through a critical and challenging phase. There's been a sea change in its political, economic, social and security situation & consequently, in its humanitarian needs.”

“As an immediate neighbour, India is monitoring developments with understandable concern. The UNDP recently assessed that there is an imminent threat of poverty levels rising from 72 per cent to 97 per cent. This would have catastrophic consequences for regional stability,” the EAM was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Jaishankar is slated to travel to Tajikistan later this week to participate in a key meeting on Afghanistan and hold talks with counterparts from several countries, including Iran, on the rapidly evolving situation in the war-torn country.

Guided by historical ties, India was willing to stand by the Afghan people in their hour of crisis, as it had done in the past, the external minister further said. He also called on the global community to help create the best possible enabling environment in the country.

“Our friendship is reflected in development projects in all 34 (Afghan) provinces. In face of grave emergency situation, India is willing to stand by Afghan people, as in the past.”

“India's own approach to Afghanistan has been guided by historical friendship with its people. This will continue to be the case. Even in the past, we have contributed to the humanitarian needs of that society,” Jaishankar said.

Speaking on safe passage of those willing to leave the war-ravaged nation, the issue needed to be immediately sorted out having a potential to emerge as an obstacle to humanitarian assistance. “Those who wish to travel in and out of Afghanistan should be granted such facilities without obstruction,” he said at the meeting.

“The normalisation of regular commercial operations of Kabul airport would not only assist in that regard but then become the basis of a regular flow of relief material. This would also accelerate activities that would complement domestic relief measures,” he said.