Afghan Embassy In Delhi Shuts Down. NDTV Explains Why

"To the Afghan citizens in India, the Embassy extends its sincere gratitude for their understanding and support throughout our mission's tenure," the embassy said.

New Delhi:

The Afghanistan embassy in Delhi announced Thursday that it had shut down in the face of "persistent challenges from the Indian government". This follows the halt to operations announced September 30, which the embassy called "a move made in the hope the Indian government's stance will favourably change to let the mission operate normally." The embassy said "it now rests on the Indian government to decide the fate of the mission... to maintain closure or consider alternatives". 

In its final statement, the embassy said it was cognisant some may attempt to characterise this move as an internal conflict - allegedly involving diplomats who switched allegiance to the Taliban - and stressed "this decision is a result of broader changes in policy and interests". It said that despite "limitations", it worked "tirelessly" for Afghan citizens "absent a legitimate government in Kabul".

"To the Afghan citizens in India, the Embassy extends its sincere gratitude for their understanding and support throughout our mission's tenure," it added.

"Limitations In Power, Resources"

In its statement this morning, the embassy said it had worked "tirelessly" for the betterment of Afghan citizens "despite limitations in power and resources", crucially, had done so "in the absence of a legitimate government in Kabul". The embassy also said it had attempted to "exert diplomatic pressure in its power on those who defy the will of the Afghan people by failing to form an inclusive government and denying millions of girls the right to attend school".

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The September halt to operations - coming two years after the Taliban overthrew the Afghanistan government - was triggered by a power struggle. The Taliban reportedly appointed a charge d'affaires - Qadir Shah, a trade councillor at the embassy since 2020 - to replace Farid Mamundzay.

However, the embassy insisted there was no leadership change and said it "categorically refutes any baseless claims regarding internal strife" among embassy staff. It said it was suspending operations because of an inability to serve Afghanistan's interests and a shortage of staff and resources. 

The embassy underlined that point in today's statement.

"Notable Absence Of Support"

The embassy also claimed a lack of support from the Indian government.

The Indian government - which does not recognise the Taliban goverment - had initially allowed the Afghan embassy to continue functioning under staff appointed by former President Ashraf Ghani. 

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After the September closure, India took control of the embassy in a caretaker capacity but the embassy had alleged a "notable absence of crucial support" from the Indian government and claimed this hindered its ability to carry out their duties effectively. 

The Indian government has yet to react to this charge. India has 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.

Declining Numbers

According to the statement, over the past two years (from a little after the Taliban takeover), the Afghan community in India witnessed a significant decline, with refugees, students, and traders leaving. This number nearly halved since August 2021, with limited new visas issued in this period.

"Efforts To Tarnish Our Image"

In what has been seen as a battle between embassy staff appointe by Mr Ghani and those by the Taliban government, the embassy blamed "efforts to tarnish our image and hinder diplomatic efforts in order to justify the presence and work of Taliban-appointed and affiliated diplomats".

The embassy also made an "unequivocal statement" stating that certain consulates that work on the instructions and funding from Kabul are not in consonance with the objectives of a legitimate or elected government but rather serve the interests of an "illegitimate regime".

Staff Shortage

The Afghan embassy had earlier said that there had been a significant reduction in personnel and resources due to unforeseen circumstances, making it challenging for them to continue operations.

"The lack of timely and sufficient support from visa renewal for diplomats to other critical areas of cooperation led to an understandable frustration among our team and impeded our ability to carry out routine duties effectively," a previous statement said.

Today, as it shut down, the embassy said its team had worked "diligently (under) the most difficult circumstances" to prioritise the interests of 40 million Afghans and advocate for the formation of a broad-based government.