Thursday, February 22, 2024

“Persistent challenges from Indian govt”: Afghanistan announces permanent closure of embassy in Delhi

Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi on Friday announced its permanent closure, citing “persistent challenges” from the Indian government.

“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi regrets to announce the permanent closure of its diplomatic mission in New Delhi, effective from 23 November 2023, owing to persistent challenges from the Indian government,” a statement released by Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, Farid Mamundzay, said.

“The decision follows the embassy’s earlier cessation of operations on September 30, a move made in the hope that the Indian government stance will favourably change to let the mission operate normally,” read the statement.

“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,” it added.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, Farid Mamundzay, further said that given the “constant pressure from both the Taliban & the Indian government to relinquish control, the embassy faced a difficult choice”.

“India has been a steadfast strategic partner of the erstwhile Afghan Republic since 2001, & we acknowledge the limitations & concerns that govern the realm of realpolitik and the balancing act required at a difficult time in a geo-politically sensitive region,” he said.

The statement stated: “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.”

At present, there are no diplomats from the Afghan Republic in India. Those who served in the national capital have safely reached third countries, the statement said, adding that the only people present in India are diplomats affiliated with the Taliban, visibly attending their regular online meetings.

The statement noted: “The diplomats of the Afghan Republic have handed over the mission solely to the Indian government. 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. The unfortunate end of the Republic mission marks the conclusion of the Afghan Republic in India.”

The official statement further urged the Indian government to consider the country’s requests “in this challenging time for Afghanistan, where millions suffer because of poverty and socio-economic and political exclusion.”

One of the requests was that the Indian government should take into custody the Afghan diplomatic mission properties, bank accounts and vehicles, and an amount of USD 500,000 in the embassy’s bank account. Another was, the government should continue to hoist Afghanistan’s tricolour flag on the embassy premises. And thirdly, it should “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 in the future,” the statement added.

“To the Afghan citizens in India, the Embassy extends its sincere gratitude for their understanding and support throughout our mission’s tenure,” the statement added.

“We assure the Afghan community that the mission operated with transparency, accountability, and a commitment to fair treatment based on the goodwill and interests of Afghanistan considering historic ties and bilateral relations with India,” it added.

The statement went on to say: “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. In the face of these challenges, our committed team worked diligently in the most difficult circumstances, prioritizing the interests of the 40 million Afghans in every possible sphere from securing humanitarian aid and online education scholarships to facilitating ease in trade and advocating for the formation of a broad-based government.”

“We have considered the historic events and current circumstances carefully in arriving at this conclusion. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of India for their support and assistance to Afghanistan over the past 22 years. We reiterate our commitment to serving the people of Afghanistan and will continue to explore avenues to support our nation in these challenging times,” the Afghan embassy concluded its statement.

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