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Afghan Embassy Confusion: Officials Inform No Change In Leadership For Charge D'Affaires

When trade councillor Qadir Shah wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs about being appointed as the new charge d'affaires last month, it created a lot of confusion but now the Afghan embassy confirmed no such change.

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India was put into a conflicting position when reports of the Afghan embassy envoy change surfaced. It was told that incumbent Farid Mamundzay was replaced by the Taliban with Qadir Shah as the new charge d'affaires to head the mission. But the Afghan embassy informed the Indian government on Monday that there won't be any changes happening. 

Farid Mamundzay was operating as the Afghan envoy since the previous Ashraf Ghani government and after the Taliban came to power in August 2021, there hasn't been any change in the leadership.

According to reports, Qadir Shah, who has been working as the trade councillor at the Afghan embassy since 2020, last month wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) claiming that he has been appointed as the charge d'affaires at the embassy by the Taliban.

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As Mamundzay was on a visit abroad, Shah tried to take charge of the embassy as the charge d'affaires late last month, but his attempt was stalled by other diplomats at the mission, people familiar with the matter said.

Subsequently, Shah has been barred from entering the embassy on at least three occasions, they said.

What is the Indian government saying?

There was no comment by the Indian government on the developments. The people cited above said New Delhi is considering the matter as an "internal matter" of Afghanistan.

India has not yet recognised the Taliban set up and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country.

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"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," the embassy headed by Mamundzay said in a statement.

"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," it said.

People familiar with the matter said Shah wrote the letter to the MEA in the absence of Mamundzay as he was travelling out of India.

In its statement, the embassy said 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".

There were some reports in the Afghan media about allegations of corruption against the embassy.

"The mission is committed to protecting the genuine interests of the Afghan nationals, especially in these trying times and has worked closely with the Indian authorities on humanitarian efforts, including the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and food supplies," the embassy said.

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"The embassy also wishes to inform Afghan nationals that the mission continues functioning as normal and working for their interests in India," it added.

In June last year, India re-established its diplomatic presence in Kabul by deploying a "technical team" in its embassy in the Afghan capital.

India had withdrawn its officials from the embassy after the Taliban seized power following concerns over their security.

It is learnt that the Taliban, on multiple occasions, communicated to New Delhi that the diplomats in the Afghan embassy in India do not represent Kabul any longer.

The Taliban have made around 14 attempts to remove the ambassador from the embassy in the last over two years, the people cited above said.

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(With PTI reports)

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