India Reflects on Options for Reopening Mission in Afghanistan

India Reflects on Options for Reopening Mission in Afghanistan

Many countries begin to discuss the possibility of staffing embassies in Kabul

As several countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Japan and the European Union, begin to discuss the possibility of re-staffing embassies in Kabul, New Delhi is considering its options on its presence in Afghanistan.

In November, the UAE restarted its operations in Kabul, adding to the list of embassies that are open, including Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Last month, Washington and Doha signed an agreement for the Qatari embassy in Kabul to represent the “diplomatic interests” of the United States.

Presence on the ground

While recognition by the Taliban is still “far off” and not even “remotely considered,” the officials said, each of the countries still engaged in Afghanistan is making a decision based on how best to meet the needs. of his relationship with Afghans. population. In particular, the problem India has had with the transit of aid through Pakistan, including the “conditions” of the Imran Khan government which stipulate that only Pakistani trucks will transport Indian aid and require India to pay for the aid. transport, have reopened talks about their presence. on the floor.

“Establishing a presence in Afghanistan has nothing to do with recognition. It just means that he would like to have people on the ground dealing with the new regime, to continue the engagement with the people, ”said a senior official, who said that the Modi government is not convinced of the need to reopen its mission. but that discussions continue about what should be India’s strategy.

Currently, the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which was evacuated two days after the Taliban took control of the city on August 15, is closed and has not been looted or damaged, according to officials, and the “area Green “, where the Embassy is located, is being guarded by the Taliban. The Indian consulates in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Kandahar were completely closed and emptied before the final evacuation.

According to officials, there are several options for re-staffing an Indian post there, including dispatching a team to the well-protected UN compound, keeping local Afghan staff, or keeping a small group of diplomats and security personnel in the embassy itself.

The former ambassador to Afghanistan, Amar Sinha, recommended some caution when re-staffing the embassy, ​​given the pre-mission attacks there. He said that India has always said it has no “exit policy” from Afghanistan.

“We have to deal with the world as it is and not as we want it to be. Any presence on the ground will have to be thought of in terms of what we want to achieve and how staff will be secured, ”he said. Hindu.

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari, who was ambassador to Afghanistan decades ago, called for India to reopen its diplomatic presence. “Unquestionably, yes, we should reopen our embassy as soon as possible. We are already in contact with the Taliban in Doha and Moscow, so this is a formality, ”he said in an interview with The Wire on Tuesday.

Much, officials say, will depend on what India’s other partners and friendly countries decide to do. Over the weekend, European Union (EU) officials led by Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson held talks with Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Motaqi in Doha, where the two Parties discussed how best to provide food, medical and monetary assistance to Afghans who are facing a harsh winter and severe malnutrition.

A minimal presence

“The EU delegation stressed that the possibility of establishing a minimal presence on the ground in Kabul, which would not imply recognition, will depend directly on the security situation and the effective decisions of the de facto authorities that allow it to guarantee adequate protection. of its staff and premises ”, said the EU. He said that the Taliban delegation had promised to grant them all rights and privileges under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The EU already has humanitarian personnel present in Kabul and has increased its aid to 300 million euros to “help mitigate the worsening humanitarian crisis,” Niklasson said. Hindu.

During a four-day high-level engagement by Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan Takashi Okada last week, Acting Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar said he had asked Tokyo to reopen its embassy and promised all necessary facilitation. Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the government is considering the option of resuming the functions of the Embassy with only local staff, but has not yet set a date, according to Japan Times.

Others may do the same, maintaining a skeletal local staff at their mission premises or appointing a liaison to continue essential diplomatic services, all of which would be closely watched in New Delhi.

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