A senior Taliban government official has stated its representatives have taken control of Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions in India, including the embassy in New Delhi.
Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Taliban deputy foreign minister, has told Afghan state-run television that the embassy in the Indian capital would reopen in the next couple of days.
His assertions came after diplomats loyal to the U.S.-backed ousted Afghan government announced last week they were permanently shutting down the embassy over alleged lack of cooperation from the host country, among other issues.
“Our consulates in Mumbai and Hyderabad are functioning and in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [in Kabul] and delivering routine consular services,” Stanekzai said in his interview the RTA aired on Tuesday.
He added that consuls at both missions moved to New Delhi earlier this week and reopened offices at the Afghan embassy. “God willing, our embassy will resume regular services in two to three days.”
The Islamist Taliban reclaimed power in Afghanistan two years ago, but India and the world at large have not granted them diplomatic legitimacy, mainly over human rights conners and their harsh treatment of Afghan women.
Last Friday, the Afghan embassy posted a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying the mission was shutting down and the keys had been given to the host government. It alleged pressure from both India and the Taliban had forced the decision.
“Unfortunately, despite an eight-week wait, the objectives of visa extension for diplomats and a shift in the Indian government’s conduct were not realized,” the statement quoted the then-Ambassador Farid Mamundzay as saying.
It noted that Afghan diplomats had reached third countries, and none remained in India. They are reportedly seeking asylum in the U.S. and Europe.
“The only individuals present in India are diplomats affiliated with the Taliban, visibly attending their regular online meetings,” the embassy said, without discussing the status of the consulates in Mumbai and Hyderabad.
The Indian foreign ministry so far has not commented on the status of the Afghan diplomatic missions in the country.
India is among the more than a dozen countries that have kept open or returned to reopen their embassies in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. They included neighboring Pakistan, China, Iran, and Russia.
These countries also have allowed Taliban diplomats to take charge of Afghan diplomatic missions on their respective soils, saying their engagement is aimed at facilitating humanitarian aid and ensuring the war-torn country does not plunge into chaos again.
The United States and other Western countries relocated their diplomatic missions to Qatar just before the U.S.-led international forces withdrew in August 2021, ending nearly two decades of Western involvement in the war with the then-insurgent Taliban.
Washington remains the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, where millions require assistance.