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Taliban's bid to take over Afghan embassy in India meets resistance

The row has caused unease for India, which has not yet formally recognised the Taliban government
Last Updated : 15 May 2023, 22:42 IST

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A move by the Taliban to formally take control of the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi has met resistance from the diplomats, who were appointed by the erstwhile government of the war-torn country.

The row over the control of Kabul’s diplomatic and consular mission in New Delhi has caused unease for India, which has not yet formally recognised the Taliban government after they grabbed power in August 2021, but has, over the past few months, started informal engagements with it.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government, installed by the Taliban, recently appointed Qadir Shah, a trade counsellor at the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi, as the Chargé d'Affaires of the mission. It conveyed its decision to appoint Shah as its envoy to New Delhi in a letter to Farid Mamundzay, who has been Afghanistan’s ambassador to India since 2020. It also asked Mamundzay to return to Afghanistan.

Shah, himself, wrote a letter to India's Ministry of External Affairs on April 28, claiming that he had been appointed as the Chargé d'Affaires (acting ambassador) of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi.

He, however, did not refer to the mission as the Embassy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the letter.

The Taliban changed the official name of the country from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after returning to power.

A section of media in Afghanistan reported that some citizens of the country living in India had sent an unsigned letter to the Taliban government in Kabul, accusing Mamundzay and two other diplomats of the embassy in New Delhi of corruption. The embassy, however, issued a statement dismissing the allegations.

The embassy issued a fresh statement on Monday, categorically rejecting “the claims from an individual claiming to have taken charge of the mission in New Delhi at the behest of the Taliban”.

“The individual who claims to have been named Chargé d'Affaires by the Taliban has been responsible for spreading misinformation and running a baseless and unsubstantiated campaign against officials of the mission, including totally fabricated allegations of corruption based on an unsigned letter,” it stated.

It reasserted its commitment to protecting the “genuine interests of the Afghan nationals (in India), especially in these trying times”. It noted that it had worked closely with the Government of India on humanitarian efforts, including the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, medicines and food supplies to Afghanistan.

“The Embassy also wishes to inform Afghan nationals that the mission continues functioning as normal and working for their interests in India,” it added.

India, like the US and most of other nations, has not recognised the government set up by the Taliban. It, however, has been reaching out to the Sunni Islamist militia and has of late even deployed "a technical team" in its embassy in Kabul, less than a year after evacuating all its diplomats and consular officials from the country.

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Published 15 May 2023, 16:19 IST

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