Taliban’s Failed Coup to Establish a Foothold in Afghan Embassy in India
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 21 May , 2023

The recent surreptitious coup by the Taliban to insert its member in the Afghan Mission in New Delhi on April 25, 2023, raised the fundamental issue of the so-called Taliban government’s latent dysfunctional strategies that violates the norms of diplomacy, code of conduct and security. This incident has been widely condemned in the past two weeks.

The statement made by Suhail Shaheen, head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha, who called it a “rational move’ by nominating Qadir Shah as the new chargé d’affaires (CDA) who initially served at the Afghan mission as a ‘Local Staff’ not accredited as a Diplomat by the republic government of Afghanistan in 2021 till Taliban claimed his candidature as the head of the mission on April 25 last month.

Is India Softening its Stand for Taliban?

The so-called Taliban government’s main spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid communicated through a video message stating that “The Islamic Emirate has sent diplomats to at least 14 countries and efforts are underway to take charge of other diplomatic missions abroad”. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has so far taken control of 14 diplomatic missions abroad which include; Iran, Pakistan, China, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Russia other Arab and African countries, which it can be seen are mostly SCO member countries. It appears that a conscientious decision has been arrived at by the SCO countries to induct Taliban elements into the Afghan Embassies in their respective countries. Taliban could not have inserted its representative into the Afghan Embassies in China, Russia or Iran without the knowledge of the respective countries.

The induced propaganda is viewed as the Taliban’s mechanization to gain legitimacy. Perhaps in preparation, India has conducted training for the Taliban officials in India in March this year virtually for four days crash course called “Immersing with Indian Thoughts”. The unfortunate part of it is, that the so-called Taliban government is neither legitimate nor has it earned international recognition by any of the countries in the world. The Taliban had usurped power from the legitimately elected Government of Afghanistan led by President Ghani in August 2021.

The self-appointed CDA by the de facto Taliban authorities, Qadir Shah has written an official letter to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stating that he has been appointed by the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on April 25, 2023, as the new CDA to take care of its interests in New Delhi and interestingly, chose an opportune time to sabotage the mission, when Ambassador Farid Mamundzay was travelling abroad.

Afghan Embassy’s Stand

Taliban-appointed Qadir Shah’s letter is not yet felicitated by MEA and at the same time, the Journalists are of the view that the government of India had declined to comment on the Taliban’s decision; with officials suggesting that this was an “internal” matter for the embassy to resolve and need to be settled amongst themselves.

However, the Afghanistan Embassy has chosen to dismiss the pro-Taliban diplomat from his services and has forbidden him from entering the Embassy premises.

The Embassy issued a statement stating that it ‘categorically rejects the claims from an individual claiming to have taken charge of the mission in New Delhi at the behest of the Taliban’. “We expect the relevant Indian authorities to take reasonable and appropriate steps in line with diplomatic norms while considering the great historic Indo-Afghan friendship. It’s an issue of great significance to the Afghan mission and moral and diplomatic principles,” said Ambassador Farid Mamundzay.

Qadir Shah has levelled corruption charges against the Embassy and its officials. The corruption charges were primarily aimed at evicting Ambassador Farid Mamundzay from his position to enable him to occupy his place. If he had concerns about the corruption and malpractices in the Embassy, the matter ought to have been brought up earlier not while writing to the MEA staking a claim to the post of Ambassador as appointed by the de facto Taliban authority. This is an afterthought adopted by him to oust Ambassador Farid Mamundzay who was appointed by the former elected Republic of Afghanistan and accredited by the President of India in 2021.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India said, “I represent a republic or a government which no longer exists, but I was appointed by a legitimately elected government. I do have that legitimacy serving in this mission”.

The Afghan Embassy in New Delhi has been functioning normally in an extraordinary situation since August 15, 2021, and it has been working as a bridge between the Government of India and Afghan refugees in India and the people of Afghanistan.

For over one year and a half, the Afghan mission in New Delhi has been working tirelessly and has continued to provide tailored assistance in difficult circumstances to respond to a humanitarian response plan to fulfill the needs of Afghan people conducting relief operations through wheat shipment, Covid vaccines, and evacuation operations, handling a scale of consular issues, trade and the Afghan Diaspora issues in India are some of the areas of the mission’s outreach to achieve it.

“It is an issue of principles and morality. My colleagues stood beside me in difficult times and they continued with their selfless service. There have been instances where they had to work on little incentives. They accepted many hardships for the larger interests of the Afghans both in India and in Afghanistan. Continuity under such circumstances becomes quite difficult. We don’t know for how long but as long as we can, we would (continue at the mission),” Ambassador Mamundzay said, adding that the diplomats working at the mission have barely managed to earn their salaries but still did not take the support of the Taliban government, which continues to send letters and directives to them, said Ambassador Farid Mamundzay.

Qadir Shah is a representative of the Taliban which is a terror organization, as declared by the UN and the regime took to power in Afghanistan surreptitiously by use of force. How can the matter of the Taliban’s surreptitious entry into the Afghan Embassy in New Delhi be an internal matter between the Afghanistan Embassy and the pro-Taliban diplomat? Allowing the Taliban sympathizer in the Afghan Embassy in an official capacity with diplomatic immunity has implications which need to be taken into account by the host country.

Taliban is a terror organization and it concluded the Doha Peace Agreement in 2020 with the US in the absence of any representative of the elected legitimate Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani.

The agreement, according to reports, is said to include assurances and guarantees of an inclusive government, equal rights to women and dismantling terror outfits on Afghan soil and that the Taliban will confine itself to the Afghan territory and it will not carry forward jihad or offensive actions across the boundary of Afghanistan. However, the presence and killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman-al-Zawahiri raises questions about the Taliban’s intentions and the validity of its promises.

Secondly, there has been no inclusive government as it guarantee in the Doha deal.

Third, women in Afghanistan have not been given any freedom even to attend schools and colleges. On the contrary, education has been banned and they have not been allowed to work or even go to restaurants.

It is evident from the fact that the Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman-al-Zawahiri was present in Kabul living in a house owned by the Haqqani Network Chief Sirajuddin Haqqani who was killed in a US drone attack in July 2022. In addition, China has always been concerned and threatened by the presence of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) on Afghan soil. ETIM is a terrorist organization designated by the UN Security Council and listed by the Chinese government law. Thus there is a permanent state of threat from Afghanistan which is capable of spiralling out of control in the region.

There are also reports about the presence of IMU, ISIS, TTP, ISKP, Jaish-e-Mohammad and other terror groups in Afghanistan. Their growth and effectiveness are directly linked to the rise of these terrorist elements in Afghanistan. No concrete actions have been taken by the so-called Taliban government on these groups yet.

There have been several instances where the militants from the northern borders of Afghanistan have targeted countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has emphasized that concerns about regional security have increased in Central Asia while Tajikistan announced on April 26 that two terrorists who had entered Tajikistan from Afghanistan have been killed. Tajik officials said that these two terrorists had planned terrorist attacks inside Tajikistan. The point is, Afghan-based militants, seem to be intending to take jihad into Central Asia.

These incidents indicate that the Taliban’s intention is not merely to confine itself to Afghanistan’s borders but to expand its reach to Central Asia. Why Central Asia? Central Asia is the gateway to China and Russia and the intention may be to expand jihad into these countries. It is therefore obvious that the terror threat from the Taliban has not been reduced and the terror outfit is unable to give up its linkages with other terror organizations.

Severe Security Breach

To top it, the so-called Taliban has appointed Sirajuddin Haqqani, a dreaded terrorist and the Amir of the Haqqani Network as the country’s home minister. The newly appointed PM and the head of the cabinet Mawlawi Abdul Kabir blacklisted by the United Nations in 2001, when he served as the acting prime minister of the then Taliban regime(1996-2001). He has his own trail of terror history of killings and terror activities according to the UN’s consolidated list of sanctioned terrorism-related individuals. He led the Peshawar Regional Shaura, Northwest Frontier Province, has authority over eastern and north-eastern Afghanistan.

With this background, how does the world countries expect the Taliban to reform in peaceful ways? Taliban attempting to insert its representative in Afghan Embassies is a grave security threat to the countries concerned, providing a foothold for the Taliban to expand its activities

Taliban is unlikely to change its ideology of ’Global Jihad’ in conjunction with the other terror groups. Though the Taliban may not be directly acting in this Jihad battle they would be encouraging and providing base facilities for terror outfits in Afghanistan. So to believe the Taliban will change or improve with the induction of their representatives in the embassy is completely absurd. In all probabilities, the Taliban elements which are there in official capacities in these embassies will form the base for the further construction of the terror infrastructure within the countries where they are located and for siphoning money to facilitate the Taliban’s ‘Global Jihad’.

The ‘Global Jihad’ as per the vision of Al Qaeda’s former leader Ayman Al Zawahiri’s ideology to establish the Islamic Emirates in the world, wherever it is, like in Syria, Africa, and Iraq. That being the case, in their own calculations they would like to use Afghanistan because of Afghanistan’s strategic location and to use the country to carry forward Jihad in various places which include; Central Asia, China, Russia Iran and all over the world.

Therefore, to expect that Afghanistan will be terror-free and Taliban to break linkages with these militant organizations is not possible, nevertheless, an elected legitimate government coming to power which is not linked to the Taliban is a ‘ray of hope’ to fight terrorism which requires resources, strength and external support from the international community.

The blowback of the repressive Taliban regime meted out to the Afghan people has caused acute poverty. As per the United Nations report, roughly 90 per cent of the population in Afghanistan is on the brink of poverty. To ward off the deteriorating humanitarian crisis, the so-called Taliban government has yet to demonstrate its capability rather than turning out to be an epicentre of the global terrorism hub.

“The 40 million Afghan people, held hostage by 100,000 Taliban, require solidarity, support and ongoing assistance. We appreciate the consistent position of India to consider the interest of all Afghan citizens post-August 2021. However, more work and efforts are required to change the status quo,” said Ambassador Mamundzay.

In this recent context, there is no alternative but to get the visa of the pro-Taliban diplomat cancelled and deport him back to Afghanistan unless these countries want this terror to spread in their countries and they want Islamic Jihad to be progressed. 

The United Nations must continue its efforts along with the countries of the world to secure an elected legitimate government in Afghanistan and save Afghan people from the tyranny of the Taliban rule.

The world community must not endorse the unscrupulous move of the Taliban to surreptitiously induct its representatives into Afghan Embassies in the world, which could be a serious security threat to the region and to the larger world. Providing legitimacy to a terror group will encourage terror groups working to take control of countries from legitimate governments by use of force and violence.

The international community led by UN has the moral responsibility to resolve the Afghan crisis, manage economic uncertainty, rescue the sovereign democratic goals, and address the challenges to the global norms against the repressive Taliban regime. The people of Afghanistan cannot be abandoned in the midst of big power rivalry and a terror organisation’s repressions.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Neelapu Shanti

is a New Delhi based International Affairs, Researcher, Writer, Journalist and an Indo-Afghan Analyst. MA in International Relations and Post Graduate in Journalism.

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3 thoughts on “Taliban’s Failed Coup to Establish a Foothold in Afghan Embassy in India

  1. Well brought out. In a world which is transitioning from unipolar to multipolar model, SCO can be a useful organisation to allow participation of smaller countries in decision making. This could be a very useful forum to discuss issues that concern the world such as inflation, sanctions, weaponisation of dollars, confiscation of reserves and assets of countries etc to formulate the stand of SCO countries in major issues affecting the world for projection in important forums & conferences. This will make the smaller countries own decisions besides having a sense of participation in world affairs.

  2. I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. Thanks for posting it. Nice post. this is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information.

  3. An outstanding article that brings out the dangers of allowing the presence of Taliban’s representatives in an official capacity in Afghanistan’s embassies in the countries of the world. Hasty actions by countries to placate or to recognise Taliban to achieve some geopolitical goals will cost.

    Countries of the world need the present arrangements established by the earlier elected Government of Afghanistan to remain in contact with the people of Afghanistan till a legitimate Government is established in the country. The present embassies need to be supported including by providing financial assistance by the host Governments, for them to survive.

    Make no mistake. The Taliban which is an ideologically driven terror organisation will not reform or change by the lure of incentives.

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