Afghanistan Embassy announces its permanent closure in New Delhi '

Afghanistan Embassy announces its permanent closure in New Delhi '

New Delhi, Nov 24 (PTI) Afghanistan's Embassy in India on Friday announced its permanent closure, citing “persistent challenges from the Indian government”.

This comes after the Afghanistan Embassy had announced on September 30 that it is ceasing its operations from October 1. The mission had back then cited a lack of support from the host government, failure to meet expectations in serving Afghanistan's interests and reduction in personnel and resources.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Embassy said it regrets announcing the permanent closure of its diplomatic mission in New Delhi, effective from November 23, “owing to persistent challenges from the Indian government”.

“This decision follows the embassy's earlier cessation of operations on 30th September 2023, a move made in the hope that the Indian government's stance would evolve favourably for the normal continuation of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi,” the statement said.

Unfortunately, despite an eight-week wait, the objectives of visa extension for diplomats and a shift in the Indian government's conduct were not realised, the Afghan embassy said.  “Given the constant pressure from both the Taliban and the Indian government to relinquish control, the embassy faced a difficult choice,” it said.

As of now, there are no diplomats from the Afghan Republic remaining in India, the mission stressed.

Those who served the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have safely reached third countries, it said.  The only individuals present in India are diplomats affiliated with the Taliban, visibly attending their regular online meetings, it said.

The diplomats of the Afghan Republic have handed over the mission solely to the Indian government, the mission said.  “It now rests upon the Indian government to decide the fate of the mission, whether to maintain its closure or consider alternatives, including the possibility of handing it over to Taliban 'diplomats'. The responsibility of diplomats appointed by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has officially come to an end,” it said.  The unfortunate end of the Republic mission marks the conclusion of the Afghan Republic in India, the statement said.

“We have considered the historic events and current circumstances carefully in arriving at this conclusion. We also extend their heartfelt gratitude to the people of India for their support and assistance to Afghanistan over the past 22 years,” the statement said.

The Afghan Embassy asserted that India has been a steadfast strategic partner of the erstwhile Afghan Republic since 2001, and “we acknowledge the limitations and concerns that govern the realm of realpolitik and the balancing act required at a difficult time in a geo-politically sensitive region”.  “Therefore, we firmly believe that the decision to close the mission in India at this stage and to transfer the custodial authority of the mission to the host country is in the best interest of Afghanistan,” the mission said.

Citing the “challenging time for Afghanistan, where millions suffer because of poverty and socio-economic and political exclusion”, the Embassy also urged that under the provisions of the Vienna Convention of 1961 (Article 45), the Ministry of External Affairs to fulfil its obligations and responsibilities concerning assuming custodial responsibility of the Afghan diplomatic mission properties, bank accounts, vehicles and all other assets located in New Delhi on urgent basis.  “A detailed list of assets in 110 pages has already been shared with the Ministry of External Affairs, including details of approximately $500,000 in the bank accounts of the mission,” the statement said.

The mission also requested the Indian government, in alignment with the wishes of the Afghan people, to grant permission to hoist Afghanistan's tricolour flag over the mission's properties during this period.  “It is an important symbol of honour, pride, sacrifice and self-determination for millions of Afghans around the world,” the statement said.

“Lastly, we earnestly implore the Ministry of External Affairs to 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/chosen by the Afghan people in the future,” the mission said.

The embassy also said that while cognisant that some may attempt to characterise this move as an internal conflict, allegedly involving diplomats who switched allegiance to the Taliban, it emphasises that this decision is a result of broader changes in policy and interests.

“To the Afghan citizens in India, we extend our sincere gratitude for their understanding and support throughout our mission's tenure. Despite limitations in resources and power, we have worked tirelessly for their betterment and in the absence of a legitimate government in Kabul,” it said.

Unfortunately, efforts have been made to tarnish our image and hinder diplomatic efforts in order to justify the presence and work of Taliban-appointed and affiliated diplomats, it said.  The embassy has been headed by Ambassador Farid Mamundzay. Mamundzay was appointed by the previous Ashraf Ghani government and had been operating as the Afghan envoy even after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

In April-May, the embassy was rocked by a power struggle in the wake of reports of the Taliban appointing a charge d'affaires to head the mission, replacing Mamundzay. Following the episode, the embassy came out with a statement that there was no change in its leadership.

India is yet to recognise the Taliban set-up and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul, besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country. PTI ASK DV DV

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