25 June, 2021

First Among Unequals

New Delhi leads the pack in establishing ties with the new dispensation, hoping for a larger role

Tribhuvan Tiwari
First Among Unequals
It was only on November 18, Sunday, that Indian Foreign Service officer Gautam Mukhopadhyay, who had been on a year-long stint in Delhi’s National Defence College, was sounded out about the external affairs ministry’s decision to re-open the diplomatic mission in Kabul. The nitty-gritties were sorted out on Monday and the decision was now final: New Delhi was to open the diplomatic mission in Kabul exactly a week after the Northern Alliance (NA) swept into power.

Two days later, Mukhopadhyay, S.K. Lambah, special envoy to Afghanistan, and Arun Singh, joint secretary, among many others, including a senior diplomat from the Afghan embassy in Delhi, were on board the air force IL 76 heading for Kabul. In addition to video tapes of Bollywood blockbusters like Lagaan and KKHH (Indian films are a big hit there. Anarkali, for instance, ran for three years in Kabul), the delegation also carried an Indian flag.

The aircraft landed at Bagram airport, 30 km from Kabul, at 9.55 am, without the assistance of the Air Traffic Control. There were no other...

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