Says situation in Afghanistan is far worse than it was earlier
In a dramatic move that has set diplomatic circles in Delhi as well as political circles in Kabul abuzz, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to IndiaShaida Mohammad Abdali resigned during President Ghani’s visit to India on Wednesday. He explained his decision in an interview.
Despite the difficult situation back home, you have decided to resign as Ambassador here and return to Afghanistan. Why?
It is a very tough decision. India has given me a feeling of home and it saddens me to leave. I have served my country for more than six years in India and I now find I need to serve my country from within. Afghans today need to work for peace and unity, to commit themselves to it, and for that we need to work from there from within. My decision is also based on a lengthy conversation with people in Afghanistan, conversations within Afghanistan to serve my people and my country.
You said peace and unity are your motives to return. Does this mean you are joining politics ahead of elections?
The purpose is to serve. Right now, I want to look at priorities for Afghanistan. Today if you tell me I have to choose between being the Ambassador and a situation in Afghanistan where national unity and peace is at risk, I would prefer to work for peace and unity in my country. It is time to prioritise that. My vision is also to undo the great game of politics between world powers, which has always crippled Afghanistan. Now we see the signs, and we must stop it.
Was there a personal motivation too?
There is no family in Afghanistan that has not suffered a personal loss, and yes, my family is no exception. I too lost my brothers to the violence, and I too understand the pain that every Afghan has felt. It was perhaps because of my loss that I thought about public service. Public life is not a privilege in Afghanistan, it is a sacrifice. I understand that, and I am willing to sacrifice.
What do you think has been your biggest achievement, and what is your biggest disappointment during your tenure?
I think there are so many more achievements and disappointments have been very few. The biggest achievement is how much closer our countries and peoples are. The assistance India has given, adding another $2 billion. Thousands of Afghan youth educated in India are a treasure India has given us. In the last 12 years, we have had 60,000 Afghan youth graduates from India. The SPA (Strategic Partnership Agreement) has made our relationship much stronger. We are a democratic culture, but we need an institutionalisation of our democracy like India has had. I hope to help inculcate this culture in my country.
What is the one thing you wish had happened in these six years that didn’t?
I wish Afghanistan had been in a better place by now. I am returning because the situation is so much worse than it was 6 years ago. We had a much better environment. I had hoped I would return to peace and stability. Today I return out of compulsion, because there is a pressing need to return and do something to help the situation there.