Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Afghanistan shuts down embassy in New Delhi

Afghanistan has announced the permanent closure of its embassy in New Delhi after diplomats pre-dating the current Taliban government failed to secure visa extensions.

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, the embassy said it was shutting down due to “constant pressure from both the Taliban and the Indian government to relinquish control.” Farid Mamundzay, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, said the move had been triggered by “persistent challenges from the Indian government.” 

India does not recognize the Taliban government and had allowed the ambassador and mission staff to stay after the collapse of the Afghan government in 2021, when President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban returned to power. 

In September, however, the diplomats left for the US and Europe to seek asylum. The embassy then announced that it was suspending operations. Explaining this move in its statement on Friday, the embassy said it was then “hoping” that the Indian government’s stance would “evolve favorably” and the mission would be allowed to operate normally. 

Despite an eight-week wait, the ambassador said, “the objectives of visa extension for diplomats and a shift in the Indian government’s conduct were not realized.” He added that the embassy had faced a “difficult choice” given the “constant pressure from both the Taliban and the Indian government to relinquish control.”

The embassy said it had worked “tirelessly” for the betterment of Afghan citizens “despite limitations in power and resources.”

The statement further noted that, over the past two years and three months, the Afghan community in India has witnessed a significant decline, with refugees, students, and traders leaving the country. He said the number had “nearly halved since August 2021 with very limited new visas being issued during this period.” The statement, however, made no mention of the status of its other consulates in the country, including the one in Mumbai.

Handing over the mission to the Indian government, the envoy asked New Delhi to take into custody the Afghan diplomatic mission properties, vehicles and bank accounts, which contained $500,000. 

It also urged New Delhi to continue hoisting the Afghan flag and “ensure the safekeeping of the embassy’s property and assets with the understanding that they will be entrusted to a legitimate accountable government duly elected or chosen by the Afghan people.

The Afghan diplomats who were appointed by the Ghani government have reached third countries, the official statement said, adding that the only individuals now present in India are “diplomats affiliated with the Taliban visibly attending their regular online meetings.”

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