The Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi announced the suspension of its operations on Sunday. This decision comes more than two years after the Taliban regained control in Kabul, following the collapse of the Western-backed government. While most foreign nations, including India, do not formally recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, they acknowledge them as the de facto ruling authority. This situation has created a diplomatic quandary, leaving many Afghan embassies and consulates in limbo as diplomats appointed by the former government refused to relinquish control of embassy premises to representatives chosen by the Taliban authorities.
The embassy’s statement, posted on the social media platform X, conveyed deep sadness, regret, and disappointment about the decision to cease operations. It also revealed that India would temporarily assume caretaker responsibilities for the embassy. The statement cited several challenges that contributed to this difficult decision, including a reduction in staff and resources, as well as issues with visa renewals for diplomats.
Reports indicate that the ambassador and other senior diplomats had left India in recent months, with internal disagreements among those who remained in New Delhi. However, the embassy firmly refutes claims of internal strife among its staff and categorically denies any allegations of diplomats seeking asylum in third countries amid the crisis.
India, like many other nations, evacuated its entire diplomatic mission from Kabul in August 2021 as the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital. However, last year, India sent a small team to reopen its embassy in Kabul. Most foreign nations have not returned their diplomatic staff to Afghanistan, choosing to adopt a wait-and-see approach, but a few embassies, including Pakistan, China, and Russia, have remained open and continue to have ambassadors stationed in Kabul.
The change of power in Kabul had a significant impact on Afghan citizens worldwide, leaving tens of thousands of Afghan students, businesspeople, and medical tourists stranded. While many opted not to return to Afghanistan, some, encouraged by the Taliban authorities, have gone back, viewing it as a gesture of faith in the new leadership.
The Taliban now fully controls approximately a dozen Afghan embassies abroad, including those in Pakistan, China, Turkey, and Iran. In some cases, embassies operate on a hybrid system, with the ambassador gone but embassy staff still managing routine consular work such as visa issuance and document processing.
In a related incident from January last year, tensions flared at Afghanistan’s embassy in Rome when a junior diplomat claimed to have been appointed by the Taliban’s leadership to assume the role of the ambassador loyal to the former government.
While most senior Afghan foreign ministry officials are currently attending a conference on the country in the Russian city of Kazan and were unavailable for comment on the closure of the embassy in New Delhi, this latest development underscores the ongoing diplomatic complexities surrounding Afghanistan.
The Embassy of Afghanistan in India has suspended its operations amidst ongoing diplomatic uncertainties, further highlighting the challenges faced by Afghan embassies worldwide in the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul. The closure of the embassy in New Delhi adds to the intricate web of diplomatic intricacies as nations grapple with how to engage with the de facto authorities in Afghanistan.