Afghan top diplomat in India steps down after ‘caught smuggling’ 25kg gold

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Afghan Consul-General Zakia Wardak was not arrested due to diplomatic immunity, reports Indian media

Zakia Wardak, the Afghan Consul-General in India’s Mumbai. — X/@ZakiaWardak/File
  • Wardak was country’s most senior representative in India.
  • Gold worth around $1.9 million was confiscated at auroirt.
  • Resignation leaves Afghans without consular representation.

Afghanistan’s top diplomat in India stepped down after she was accused of smuggling nearly $2 million worth of gold into the country, as per media reports.

Zakia Wardak, the Afghan Consul-General in India’s Mumbai, confirmed her resignation on her official X handle, saying: “It is with great regret that I announce my decision to step away from my role at the Consulate and Embassy of Afghanistan in India, effective May 5, 2024.”

Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi shut down in November, more than two years after the Taliban returned to power in Kabul following the collapse of the Western-backed government, leaving Wardak as the country’s most senior representative in India, according to AFP.

As per Indian media reports, Wardak was last month stopped by financial intelligence authorities at Mumbai airport on arrival from Dubai — along with her son — carrying 25 kilogrammes of gold.

She was not arrested because of her diplomatic immunity, the reports said, but the gold — worth around $1.9 million — was confiscated.

Wardak’s resignation leaves thousands of Afghan nationals, including students and businessmen, without any consular representation in India.

Most foreign nations — including India — do not officially recognise Afghanistan’s Taliban government, but acknowledge them as the de facto ruling authority.

In many Afghan missions, diplomats appointed by the former government have refused to cede control of embassy buildings and property to representatives of the Taliban authorities.

Wardak said in the statement that she had “encountered numerous personal attacks and defamation” over the past year.

Such incidents “have demonstrated the challenges faced by women in Afghan society,” she added, making no explicit reference to the gold allegations.

The Taliban authorities have full control of around a dozen Afghan embassies abroad — including in Pakistan, China, Turkiye and Iran.

Others operate on a hybrid system, with the ambassador gone but embassy staff still carrying out routine consular work such as issuing visas and other documents.

Most countries evacuated their missions from Kabul as the Taliban closed in on the Afghan capital in August 2021, although a handful of embassies — including Pakistan, China and Russia — never shut, and still have ambassadors in Kabul.

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