The embassy of Afghanistan in India, which owed its allegiance to the former West-backed government, has announced its closure, saying it would cease operations starting from October 1.
The Afghan embassy’s statement on Saturday said it wanted to reach an agreement with the Indian government to ensure that the interests of Afghans living, working, studying and doing business in India are safeguarded.
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Afghans account for around one-third of the nearly 40,000 refugees registered in India, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency. But that figure excludes those who are not registered with the UN.
“There has been a significant reduction in both personnel and resources available to us, making it increasingly challenging to continue operations,” the statement said.
The closure comes more than two years after the Taliban government stormed back to power triggering the collapse of the government of President Ashraf Ghani in the wake of the US withdrawing its troops after 20 years of war and occupation.
“It is with profound sadness, regret, and disappointment that the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi announces this decision to cease its operations,” the embassy said.
The decision was taken due to lack of “crucial support” from India which has hampered the embassy’s capacity to carry out the embassy’s duties, read the statement.
There were also shortcomings in meeting the expectations to best serve Afghani citizens due to “the absence of a legitimate functioning government in Kabul”, read the statement, referring to the Taliban administration.
The closure follows reports that the ambassador and other senior diplomats had left India in recent months, with infighting among those remaining in New Delhi. But the embassy rejected speculations regarding internal infighting among its staff, stressing that these were “unfounded” rumours.
India will take control of the embassy in a caretaker capacity, it said.
At the time of publication, India’s foreign ministry did not issue any statement in response to the announcement.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 30th September, 2023
Afghanistan is closing its Embassy in New Delhi.
The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi regrets to announce the decision to cease its operations, effective October 1, 2023. pic.twitter.com/BXesWPdLFP
— Afghan Embassy India (@AfghanistanInIN) September 30, 2023
No country officially recognises Afghanistan’s new government, but acknowledge the Taliban as the de facto ruling authority.
This has left many Afghan embassies and consulates in limbo, with diplomats appointed by the former government refusing to cede control of embassy buildings and property to representatives chosen by the Taliban authorities.
India has not recognised the Taliban government, which seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021. It evacuated its own staff from Kabul ahead of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago and no longer has a diplomatic presence there.
Yet, New Delhi is keen to retain ties with the country where its regional rival Pakistan wields considerable influence. Indian envoys have previously met Taliban representatives in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the group has an office.
Last year, India sent relief materials, including wheat, medicine, COVID-19 vaccines and winter clothes to Afghanistan to help with shortages there.
In June last year, India sent a team of officials to its embassy in Kabul.
Before the Taliban took control, India provided Afghan security forces with training and military equipment but had no troops on the ground. It was also the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan.