Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dialled past midnight after an Indian consulate in an Afghan city came under attack some years ago, recalled Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. “Jaage ho (are you awake)?,” was his first question, Mr Jaishankar said as he praised the leadership quality of PM Modi in the hour of need.
The minister was narrating incidents from the 2016 attack on an Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif in the war-torn country, while speaking at an event to discuss the book ‘Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’.
#WATCH | NY, US: Recounting India’s evacuation effort from Afghanistan, EAM Jaishankar says, “It was past midnight… PM called me, his first question was – “Jaage ho?”… I apprised him that help is on its way. He told me to call him when it’s done… that’s a singular quality.” pic.twitter.com/AxL7Ddp6d6
— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
“It was past midnight and our consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan was under attack. We were trying to figure out what happened and my phone rang. It took me a bit by surprise. When the Prime Minister calls you don’t get a caller ID but still someone connects you. But this time it was the prime minister,” he shared.
The prime minister asked if I’m awake, Mr Jaishankar said.
“It’s 12:30 (am), what else will I be doing rather than being awake? Because in his life that’s probably natural,” he shared at the event in New York.
“Are you watching TV?” “Yes sir,” the conversation continued before it turned to the situation in Afghanistan. On being apprised that help was on its way, PM Modi asked to be informed personally when the operation is over, he said. “I said this will take two-three hours more and I will inform your office (PMO) when it’s over.” “Call me,” replied the Prime Minister, he said.
Praising the prime minister’s sense of responsibility during such an hour of need, he also pointed out how India was able to take important decision during the more recent Covid crisis.
“If you look at how leaders around the world handled Covid – not everybody stepped up or said I’d take that call. To handle the consequences of very big decisions is an extremely singular quality,” said Mr Jaishankar, praising PM Modi.
He also recalled when he first met the prime minister. “I frankly liked Mr Modi before I met him. On some levels, as many would complain, I am a micromanager. I can be quite a pain. But the level of preparation he had done was commendable,” said Mr Jaishankar.
He also recounted India’s evacuation efforts from Afghanistan last year when the Taliban took over.
The foreign minister is in New York to attend the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. On its sidelines, he has also met envoys and heads of states from around the world.
(With inputs from ANI)