Taliban’s triumph in Afghanistan, and President Ghani’s decision to depart, has raised the question of whether the world, specifically the United Nations, should recognise the Taliban authority. Since the Taliban overthrew the internationally recognised government in Afghanistan in 2021, former government diplomats have continued to maintain operations overseas in conjunction with the Taliban’s foreign ministry.
The Taliban has recalled current Ambassador Farid Mamundzay, who was chosen by the Ashraf Ghani administration and has promoted existing trade counsellor Muhammad Qadir Shah as the next Ambassador. Would President Murmu accept Shah’s credentials? Let’s have a look.
India does not recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan as its allies Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates do. The current embassy operating at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi is of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and not that of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, to facilitate consular affairs in India as usual. Afghanistan has a sizable student population in India, and many Afghan nationals work in many areas, mostly in IT and technology, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, journalism, broadcasting, communications, humanitarian relief, or social work. It is critical for the embassy to run effectively, but this recall is causing great anxiety.
The recall is claimed to be the result of alleged corruption charges made by Afghan nationals in India. The Ministry of External Affairs is caught between supporting a corrupt foreign diplomat and allowing an appointee from an unrecognised foreign government. Amb Mamundzay argues the alleged letter was a ploy by the Taliban to get him back to Afghanistan, where he may face a trial for being a loyalist owing to his position as a diplomat of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and not the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Afghan embassy in India issued a statement saying that “the embassy 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 individual has been responsible for spreading misinformation against officials of this mission,” and that the embassy emphasises that the protection of Afghan Nationals in India is of primary importance. Furthermore, the embassy’s personnel have collectively refused to accept the decision from Kabul, and Shah has been stopped from visiting the mission on three occasions since then, according to the people. The belief is that the safety of those who have gone to India seeking shelter from the oppressive regime would be jeopardised. Anti-Taliban sympathisers in India would be returned for sham trials and execution. What are the ramifications if India permits the shift in “diplomatic” representation to occur?
Approximately 30 Afghan embassies in various countries are still managed by diplomats nominated by the old administration, including India. Except for the 15 countries that have recognised the Taliban administration, including China, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia, the world has yet to embrace the Afghan government administered by the terrorist party. If India accepts Shah’s credentials, we inadvertently imply to acknowledge the Taliban Government in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s strategic establishment of a diplomatic presence in the world’s greatest democracy would be perceived as a huge success for the Taliban.
The procedure of substitution is similar to that employed in China, and the Taliban flag is already flying in Beijing. Consider the humiliation of the Taliban flag flying at the Afghan Embassy in Delhi. Even after the collapse of the Republic in August 2020, India has always accepted Mamundzay as a legitimate diplomatic representation. Simultaneously, it has sought to maintain a functional connection with the Taliban by stationing a ‘technical team’ of diplomats in Kabul. India can’t afford to have the Taliban government run the embassy on its soil, to begin with, because the Taliban is a Deobandi Islamic hardliner fundamentalist globally classified terrorism outfit, India would confront another issue of terrorism propagation within its borders. This also implies that Afghans in India may be compelled into terrorism-related operations in India, such as network construction.
The Taliban is listed as a terrorist organisation on various sanction lists. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has not removed the embargo imposed by Resolution 1988 on the Taliban in 2011. The embargo imposes bans and sanctions on dealing with the Taliban’s assets, as well as limits on supplying weaponry or equipment and giving technical, financial, or other aid or training to specified people or companies associated with the Taliban. India, as a member of the UN and a strong candidate for permanent membership in the UN Security Council, wishes to defend the council’s ideals. The US Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has designated the Taliban and the Haqqani Network as sanctioned entities, as well as numerous current Afghan ministers and high-ranking government officials, on its Afghanistan-related List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List). Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 designates the Taliban as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). India, which is a signatory to numerous multilateral treaties with the US, notably the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, would support the Taliban sanctions.
The Taliban continues to face worldwide isolation as nations and international organisations refuse to acknowledge its government for its illegal takeover of the country and repression of the basic human rights of Afghan girls and women. The United Nations (UN) and other countries have strongly criticised the limitations on female education and employment, as well as the human rights crimes, and the international community is still apprehensive about officially accepting the Taliban. “Recognition is one leverage that we have and should hold on to,” says Amina Mohammed of the United Nations, referring to atrocities against women in particular. Following their takeover in August 2021, the Taliban first promised a more moderate administration, but instead enacted extensive prohibitions and other measures restricting basic liberties, which India has condemned. If India explores direct discussions with the Taliban, it would be a significant departure from its constant stance of negotiating solely with recognised governments.
The international response to the Taliban rule has varied from outright criticism to attempts at dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the issue. In diplomatic words, other nations’ responses will vary depending on their own interests, geopolitical concerns, and the exact circumstances of the renegade government’s acceptance. Each country will assess the situation in light of its own values, foreign policy goals, and regional dynamics. India does not appear to be open to any diplomatic dialogue with the Taliban by a long shot.