India on Thursday asserted that the Afghan embassy in New Delhi and its consulates in Mumbai and Hyderabad are functioning and that Afghan diplomats here will continue to provide services to the Afghan nationals in te country. This came after the Taliban government said last month that its representatives have taken control of the embassy and will resume operations soon.
"The Afghan Embassy in New Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai and Hyderabad are functional. You can see from the flag who they represent and our position on the condition of entities has not changed. The Afghan diplomats will continue to provide services to the Afghan nationals here," said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Last month, the Afghan embassy announced permanent closure in New Delhi owing to the "persistent challenge from the Indian government". In a statement, it 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."
What did the embassy say on closure?
The embassy further said it was 'cognisant' that some may attempt to characterise this move as an internal conflict, allegedly involving diplomats who switched allegiance to the Taliban, adding "that this decision is a result of broader changes in policy and interests".
Despite "limitations in resources and power", the Afghan embassy said it has worked "tirelessly for their betterment and in the absence of a legitimate government in Kabul". It also said that diplomats have left India and are seeking asylum in the United States and Europe.
The embassy also noted in its statement that over the past 2.3 years, the Afghan community in India has witnessed a significant decline, with Afghan refugees, students, and traders leaving the country. The number has nearly halved since August 2021, with very limited new visas being issued during this period, it added.
Taliban govt takes control of embassy: Report
Taliban deputy foreign minister Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai told Afghan media that the embassy in New Delhi will resume operations in a few days after Taliban representatives took control of the diplomatic office, according to Voice of America. "Our consulates in Mumbai and Hyderabad are functioning and in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [in Kabul] and delivering routine consular services," he said.
He added that consuls at both missions moved to New Delhi in November and reopened offices at the Afghan embassy. The announcement indicates that India is approaching a pro-engagement policy with the Taliban government in Afghanistan. According to some reports, some Afghan diplomats have agreed to continue work even in the absence of the pre-Taliban government representatives.
The Afghan Embassy in New Delhi was run by staff appointed by the previous government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with permission from the Indian authorities. However, India has not recognized 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 in 2021 and no longer has a diplomatic presence there.