The power tussle between the Afghanistan embassy in India and the Taliban administration has continued to escalate after a move by the regime to formally take control was rejected from the embassy's diplomats.
Two and a half years after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the regime has directed a change in leadership in the Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi.
However, Ambassador Farid Mamumdzay, who was appointed by the forgone Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is fighting the Taliban-run Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul, vying to defy the regime's instructions and maintain control over the embassy.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, it has taken control of close to 14 of its missions abroad and placed its own nominees.
The Fight: Taliban vs Afghanistan Embassy
Since Sunday (14 May), several media reports claimed that the Taliban in Afghanistan appointed Mohammad Qadir Shah, an embassy employee working as the current trade counsellor under the republic government, to become the Taliban's new point person in New Delhi and lead the embassy as the 'chargé d'affaires'.
Afghan outlet TOLO News also tweeted a copy of an unsigned letter allegedly from "Afghan refugees based in India" that named Mamumdzay and two other diplomats and accused them of "corruption."
On Monday, the embassy rejected the reports, and Mamumdzay said, "The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan categorically rejects the claims from an individual claiming to have taken charge of the mission in New Delhi at the behest of the Taliban,” Mamumdzay said in a statement.
“The individual who claims to have been named “chargé d'affaires” by the Taliban has been responsible for spreading misinformation and running a baseless and unsubstantiated campaign against officials of the mission, including totally fabricated allegations of corruption based on an unsigned letter,” the ambassador said.
He added that the mission is dedicated to safeguarding the legitimate interests of Afghan nationals, particularly during these challenging times. They have actively collaborated with Indian authorities on humanitarian initiatives, which encompass the provision of COVID-19 vaccines, medicines, and food supplies.
What is New Delhi's Position?
India's position on Afghanistan is congruent with the larger international community. It does not recognise the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government and has maintained the status quo, recognising Mamumdzay as Afghanistan's legitimate diplomatic representative.
But at the same time, New Delhi has also attempted to have a functional relationship with the Taliban, having placed a 'technical team' of diplomats in Kabul. The ambassador was also present when the Indian government flagged off convoys of Indian wheat as humanitarian aid from Afghanistan in 2022.
In the Embassy's statement, Mamumdzay said, "The Embassy appreciates 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."
Despite the lack of recognition by any government, the Taliban has managed to exert influence over diplomatic missions in various countries.
China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and several Central Asian nations have allowed the Taliban to appoint its officials to these missions, requiring the host nations to grant them visas.
Following the Taliban's takeover of Kabul and the ministries, the Afghan embassy has been receiving routine directions and orders from the foreign ministry. However, as they still consider themselves to be working under the previous government, these directives have often gone unimplemented.
During the recent UN conference on Afghanistan, the recognition of the Taliban government was not approved. As a result, the Taliban remains unacknowledged by any government.
Nonetheless, they have managed to assert control over diplomatic missions in Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran, Doha, and various Central Asian nations through the appointment of their officials.