The Afghan Churn

Afghan Envoy To India Quits With A Political Message for President Ghani

Afghanistan’s long-serving ambassador to India, Shaida M Abdali, has resigned. What came as an even bigger surprise though was the envoy’s decision to put in his papers on the day Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was in town.

Abdali chose to share the news of his resignation through a series of tweets on Wednesday evening, beginning with this rather tantalising one: “Stepping Down-A tough but an appealing decision: On a high note ending a successful visit of HE the Afghan President in India, I resigned today as the Afghan Ambassador to India. Serving in India for more than six years was indeed a great honor and privilege.”
Ambassador Abdali was a political appointee who was made his country’s envoy during the tenure of President Hamid Karzai–his tweets indicated his plans to serve his country by returning home. Afghanistan is to hold parliamentary elections next month.

He tweeted, “ Serving my country for years in India, I felt the need to return and serve my country from within.”

He also had fulsome praise for a country where he stayed for long, saying, “India not only gave me a home feeling but added a wealth of knowledge and plethora of experiences to my over 2 decades long political career. The exceptional warmth, hospitality and friendship extended to me during my tenure will remain a hallmark in my political career.”

But it is unusual for any ambassador to quit when the head of state is in town, therefore the question: Was he asked to go? If so, for what reason?

Some of the speculation surrounding his departure is linked to the purge in his country, which has seen the removal of key officials including Hanif Atmar, the National Security Adviser. Atmar served in the KHAD, the intelligence service of the late Communist president Najibullah, and was reportedly trained by the erstwhile Soviet KGB. His removal was apparently at the instigation of the Americans who want to control the entire Afghan peace process (such as it is). Atmar was deemed too close to the Russians and had to go.

Has Abdali fallen casualty to the same dynamics? Not clear. He was and remains close to former president Hamid Karzai, who fell out with the Americans some years ago. Both men belong to the southern province of Kandahar.

Before coming to New Delhi, Ambassador Abdali served as the deputy National Security Adviser and Special Assistant President Karzai. Indeed, Ambassador Abdali even took part in the early resistance movement against the Taliban and its foreign backers under the leadership of President Karzai, says his biography on the Afghan Embassy’s website. He was appointed personal secretary to president Karzai in 2001.

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