Afghanistan Embassy announces its permanent closure in New Delhi over 'challenges' from India

Afghanistan Embassy announces its permanent closure in New Delhi over 'challenges' from India

New Delhi, Nov 24 (PTI) Afghanistan Embassy on Friday announced its permanent closure, citing 'persistent challenges from the Indian government', even as heads of its Mumbai and Hyderabad missions claimed to have assumed the leadership of the embassy here.

The developments come after the Afghanistan Embassy had announced on September 30 that it is ceasing its operations from October 1. The mission had 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.

However, Consul General of Afghanistan in Mumbai Zakia Wardak and Acting Consul General in Hyderabad Sayed Mohammad Ibrahimkhil declared in a statement that in view of the friendly relations between India and Afghanistan, they again reiterate that they have decided to ensure continued functioning of the embassy in New Delhi.

The two diplomats said they have assumed the leadership of the Afghanistan Embassy in New Delhi.

Wardak and Ibrahimkhil urged everyone to kindly ignore and disregard the 'unprofessional and irresponsible communications issued by the former Afghan diplomats who are based abroad and have no locus standi in the internal affairs of Afghan Embassy in New Delhi'.

'Such random, fraudulent, baseless and factually incorrect communications are creating panic, distrust and negativity in the overall functioning of the Embassy, as well as amongst the Afghan nationals. Such communications do not represent the wish of all Afghans,' they said in the statement which was also issued on the letter head of the Afghan Embassy.

Wardak and Ibrahimkhil, in their statement, requested former Afghan ambassador and former diplomats to 'not use the social media platforms of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, New Delhi for issuing any unwarranted, irresponsible and unprofessional statements/press releases from abroad'.

'We are in constant touch with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and trying to address the current difficult situation wherein most of our former Embassy colleagues have received asylum and left India, therefore, we are facing shortage of diplomatic and official staff,' they said.

Earlier, the statement put out on the Afghan Embassy handle, said that as of now, there are no diplomats from the Afghan Republic remaining in India.

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

Citing the 'challenging time for Afghanistan, where millions suffer because of poverty and socio-economic and political exclusion', the embassy also urged the Ministry of External Affairs to fulfil, under the provisions of the Vienna Convention of 1961 (Article 45), 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 embassy 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.  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.

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 ASK KVK KVK KVK

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