Catch-22 for India as Taliban looks to wrest control of embassy

NEW DELHI: The appointment of an envoy by the Taliban has landed India in a peculiar situation with the Afghan ambassador who has held the fort till now, Farid Mamundzay, and other diplomats appointed by the previous Ashraf Ghani government refusing to relinquish charge.
The embassy in a statement on Monday accused Taliban’s pick Qadir Shah of spreading misinformation and running a baseless and unsubstantiated campaign against the mission. Shah had been working as trade counsellor with the embassy when he was redesignated as charge d’affaires by the Taliban.
In the first public confirmation of the Taliban move to appoint an envoy to India, its chief of political office in Doha Suhail Shaheen had told TOI, as reported on Monday, this was a rational decision that would pave the way for better ties with India. Shah, however, has apparently been denied entry into the embassy since he was re-designated.
Caught in a catch-22, the Indian government is yet to reveal its hand on the issue even though, as reports from Kabul disclosed on Monday, the Taliban foreign ministry issued an order weeks ago – on April 25 – replacing the ambassador with its own charge d’affaires. India had extremely close ties with the Ghani government but, without endorsing the Kabul dispensation, it has also sought to engage the Taliban, most notably in the form of aid diplomacy that has seen it supplying over 40,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan and also by reopening its embassy.
While rejecting the claim of Shah, who had earlier written to the MEA saying he was taking over as the charge d’affaires, the embassy in its statement also appreciated the "consistent" position of the Indian government for supporting the interests of the Afghan people, while at the same time "not recognising the Taliban regime in Kabul, as it has been the case with democratic governments around the world". It said the embassy had worked closely with Indian authorities on humanitarian issues, including the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, medicines and food.
The decision to appoint its own envoy here is in line with efforts by the Taliban, overriding the lack of international recognition for the dispensation in Kabul, to take control of more and more Afghan embassies around the world. A Taliban spokesperson was quoted as saying in March this year that the 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ had sent diplomats to 14 countries – including Russia, Iran, China, Turkey and Pakistan – and efforts were on to take charge of other diplomatic missions.
These efforts have met with limited success though as the international community remains wary of recognising the government in Kabul, not least because of a Taliban crackdown that has seen them blocking employment and education for women and girls.

The Open Magazine of India by Artmotion Network (

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