NEW DELHI: In a surprise move for the Afghanistan government, its Ambassador to India Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali quit on Wednesday, presenting his resignation personally to President Ashraf Ghani at the end of his one-day visit to Delhi, reported The Hindu.
As the President left, Ambassador Abdali announced his resignation in a tweet.
Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Abdali, who took over in July 2012, said he was returning to Afghanistan to address the deteriorating situation and to serve his “people and country.”
The timing of his resignation has strengthened speculation that he has differences with the Ghani government and will run for office on return.
“The purpose is to serve,” he said, asked about his political ambitions. “Right now, I want to look at the 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 national unity in my country. It is time to prioritise that.”
His resignation comes amid a number of developments in the Ghani government in the past few weeks. In August, Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar resigned and several Ministers in the Cabinet offered their resignations reportedly over differences with President Ghani.
Dr. Abdali said his decision was the result of a “lengthy conversation” with people in Afghanistan and that the loss of two brothers to violence was part of his motivation to enter public life.
“There is no family in Afghanistan that has not suffered a personal loss, and yes, my family is no exception…Public life is not a privilege in Afghanistan, it is a sacrifice. I understand that, and I am willing to sacrifice,” he said, referring to his brother Haji Sardar Mohammad, who was shot dead when he was offering prayers at a mosque in Kandahar in December 2015. Another brother had been assassinated in 2008, when Dr. Abdali was a special assistant to former President Hamid Karzai.
From 2009-2012 he was the Deputy National Security Adviser of Afghanistan, holding the key position when the country signed its Strategic Partnership Agreement with India in 2011, its first with any country before he was sent as envoy to Delhi by President Karzai.
He is credited with ramping up ties between New Delhi and Kabul both in terms of security and economic cooperation, and was retained as Ambassador by President Ghani despite the change in government in 2014.
During his tenure, he also completed his Doctorate (Ph.D) from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and wrote a book “Afghanistan Pakistan India: A Paradigm Shift.”
Speaking about the situation in Afghanistan which he said was “much worse” than in 2012, he said he wanted to “undo the great game politics between world powers which has always crippled Afghanistan”, a reference to the U.S.-Russia rivalry that appears to have returned to the country.