New Delhi: Afghanistan has decided to permanently close its embassy in New Delhi, which was established in 2001, due to the ‘continuous challenges’ posed by the Indian government and the Taliban. The embassy suspended its operations on September 30, hoping that the Indian government would change its stance and allow the embassy to function normally. However, after waiting for eight weeks, the embassy did not receive any positive response from the Indian side regarding the extension of visas for its diplomats and staff.
The embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi issued a statement on Wednesday, announcing its closure and expressing its regret over the decision. The statement said that the embassy faced a difficult dilemma, as it was under pressure from both the Taliban and the Indian government to hand over the control of the mission. The statement said that the embassy had tried to protect the interests and rights of the Afghan citizens living in India, despite the lack of resources and authority, and in the absence of a legitimate government in Kabul.
The statement also acknowledged the strategic partnership between Afghanistan and India since 2001 and said that it understood the limitations and concerns of the Indian government in the current geopolitical situation. The statement said that the embassy believed that closing the mission in India and transferring the custodial authority to the host country was in the best interests of Afghanistan at this stage.
The closure of the Afghan embassy in New Delhi marks a significant setback in the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and India, which have been strained since the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August. India has not recognized the Taliban regime and has not established any official contact with it. India has also evacuated its embassy staff and citizens from Afghanistan and has suspended its development and humanitarian assistance to the country.
The Afghan community in India, which consists of refugees, students, and traders, has also witnessed a sharp decline in the past two years and three months. The embassy statement said that the number of Afghans in India had nearly halved since August 2021 and that very limited new visas had been issued during this period. The embassy had been providing consular services to the Afghans in India, such as issuing passports, visas, and certificates.
According to the news reports, the Afghan embassy in New Delhi was one of the few remaining diplomatic missions of the former Afghan Republic in the world. The embassy was headed by Ambassador Farid Mamundzay, who was appointed by former President Ashraf Ghani in July 2020. The embassy’s website is still operational, but it is not clear how long it will remain so. Afghanistan also has two consulates in India, located in Hyderabad and Mumbai, but their status is also uncertain.