• Friday, February 23, 2024

India News

Afghan embassy in India announces ‘permanent closure’

An Afghan national stands outside the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

AFGHANISTAN’S embassy in India announced its “permanent closure” on Friday (24), more than two years after the Taliban returned to power in Kabul following the collapse of the Western-backed government.

Most foreign nations – including India – do not officially recognise Afghanistan’s Taliban government, but acknowledge them 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.

“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi regrets to announce the permanent closure of its diplomatic mission in New Delhi,” it said in a letter it posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The Taliban authorities have full control of around a dozen Afghan embassies abroad – including in Pakistan, China, Turkey and Iran.

Others operate on a hybrid system, with the ambassador gone but embassy staff still carrying out routine consular work such as issuing visas and other documents.

The letter said there were no diplomats left from the former government remaining in India, having all “safely reached third countries”.

“The only individuals present in India are diplomats affiliated with the Taliban”, it said.

It follows a statement last month that the embassy had suspended operations.

“We acknowledge the limitations and concerns that govern the realm of realpolitik and the balancing act required at a difficult time in a geo-politically sensitive region,” the letter added.

“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 interests of Afghanistan.”

New Delhi evacuated its entire mission from Kabul as the Taliban closed in on the Afghan capital in August 2021, but last year sent back a small team to reopen its sprawling embassy.

Most foreign nations similarly withdrew diplomatic staff at the time and have not returned, although a handful of embassies – including Pakistan, China and Russia – never closed, and still have ambassadors in Kabul.

(AFP)

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