Why India chose silence on accepting Afghan envoys?

Afghanistan has no envoy in India since two and a half years as New Delhi has chosen silence to approve or reject the credentials of an Afghan envoy introduced to the country 16 months ago.

Turkey, Tajikistan, Holland and Kuwait are other countries who in recent years have been silent over approval of credentials from Afghan envoys.

Some experts say intelligence concerns and disregard for diplomatic and international norms as well as internal political differences in Afghanistan are to blame for disapproval of Afghan envoys to foreign countries.

Shaida Mohammad Abdali was the last ambassador to India where he served for six years before resigning in September 2018.

On July 27, 2019, the Afghan government introduced Walid Tamim as the country’s envoy to India, but India chose silence over his approval and then the government replaced him with Farid Momandzai on September 3.

An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that before introduction of Momandzai as envoy to India, the Afghan government wanted to name Kawoon Kakar for the job, but the Indian government showed no interest in Kakar.

However, Kakar said that after two weeks of his introduction, he personally stepped back from the job.

Another official, who wished to go unnamed, said, “Unfortunately India does not respect diplomatic relations, they want a person of their own choice.”

The source said the foreign minister also had a role in the disapproval of recent Afghan envoys to India and the foreign ministry had attempted to introduce Nasir Andisha, deputy foreign minister in administrative affairs, as ambassador to India.

Due to some political differences, Andisha too was not introduced as the envoy to India and he is currently serving as Afghanistan envoy to the UN in Geneva, the source said, adding India wanted a person who should have membership of the Jamiat-i-Islami Afghanistan (JIA) party.

None of the previous three figures were members of JIA, the official added.

Farid Mamondzai is a resident of Kunar province and has served in the National Security Council and technical assistant for Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG).

Walid Tamim is a resident of Qarabagh district of Kabul and has served as deputy customs office head in the Ministry of Finance and general director of Oil and Gas Enterprise.

Kawoon Kakar is a resident of Laghman province and has served as deputy chief of staff of the president’s office and advisor to the president as well as advisor to the Ministry of Finance.

A political affairs expert, Wadir Safi, about the disapproval of Afghan envoys by India, said that something was going on behind the scenes.

“Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (a member of JIA and head of High Council of National Reconciliation) whose house is in India and Salahuddin Rabbani, acting chief of JIA and once a foreign minister, have probably told India not to grant approval for Afghan envoys until their agreement,” he said.

He said the issue should be soon resolved with the Indian government by current foreign minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar.

Pajhwok Afghan News shared the issue with the spokesman of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Feraidon Khwazon who said, “The agrément of Afghan envoys depends on India.” However, he did not provide further information.

Deputy foreign ministry spokesman, Mansoor Khaliqyar, said that there was still time and they expected India would approve Farid Mamondzai as envoy to that country and the problem would be solved.

Gran Hiwad, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Ministry, also said that India had chosen silence over the approval or disapproval of Walid Tamim but they expected the country would accept Mamondzai as Afghan envoy.

Pajhwok Afghan News shared the silence of India on approval of Afghan envoys with India’s embassy in Kabul via Whatsapp, but the embassy is yet to respond.

An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), who wished anonymity, said “Foreign countries have become more sensitive over the past two years, they do not give agrément for figures who are not diplomats of the ministry.”

The source said that Faroq Wardak was introduced as envoy to Turkey,Nahid Esar to Italy Shah Gul Rezayee to Tajikistan in 2018 and Noorulhaq Ulumi to Holland and Mohammad Qasim Halimi to Kuwait in 2015, but the mentioned countries did not accept them.

The MoFA declined to comment about the introduction of four men as the country’s envoys.

Currently Amir Mohammad Ramin serves as envoy to Turkey, Mohammad Zahir Aghbar to Tajikistan, Mohammad Asif Rahimi to Holland and Sayed Javid Hashemi to Kuwait.

Faroq Wardak is a resident of Maidan Wardak province and has served as education minister and a parliamentary affairs minister. Shah Gul Rezayee is a resident of Ghazni province and has served as the province’s representative in Wolesi Jirga or lower house.

Noorulhaq Ulumi is a resident of Kandahar province and is currently serving as the president’s special representative for good governance. Mohammad Qasim Halimi is a resident of Logar province and he currently serves as Hajj and Islamic Affairs Minister.

An international affairs expert, Mushtaq Rahim, about approval of envoys by foreign countries said, “Countries usually prefer people with whom they have no problems working there. China and some other countries also have concerns about intelligence area, these issues can also be reasons (for disapproval of envoys).”

He said that the government should introduce its envoy to India as soon as possible as it would help further improve relations between the two countries. Presence of envoys in foreign countries, particularly in countries with which Afghanistan has good political and economic relations, is very important, he added.

Shahla Farid, a political science lecturer in Kabul University, says foreign countries reject foreign envoys when they see their diplomatic values at risk while working with them.

She said the Afghan government did not care about diplomatic and international norms while introducing its envoys to foreign countries and envoys were introduced based on the power sharing structure.