By SS Ahmad
Mansoor Ahmad Khan, a controversial Pakistani ambassador, recently ended his tenure after two years of questionable diplomatic service particularly under the Taliban’s one year rule. The speculation about his removal from ambassadorship is that his increasing interferences in the de facto government’s matters have angered the Taliban, which led to his immediate removal from Kabul. He held a series of farewell meetings with political leaders such as former President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban’s de facto foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqui.
The information that Khan shared on his Twitter account during the past year broke all the diplomatic norms and procedures that he was required to follow in Afghanistan. Khan’s first diplomatic service in Afghanistan was as the Deputy Head of Mission in Kabul between 2009 and 2012.
Many experts who knew Khan believed he had a close relationship with the Taliban during his service at the Pakistan’s Foreign Office and his first tenure in Afghanistan. Khan’s appointment as ambassador in Kabul was not a good sign because he would act as viceroy, stated a former Afghan diplomat in Islamabad.
Khan posted pictures of all his meetings with the Taliban authorities as well as local Afghans on his personal Twitteraccount. The topics of discussion ranged from the usual “peace and stability” narrative in Afghanistan, to health, mines, the aviation sector, humanitarian assistance, women, sport, higher education and other topics.
“Called on Afghan Minister for Refugees Return Excellency Haji Khalil ur Rehman Haqqani and discussed issues of welfare of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and their dignified return to Afghanistan,” read a tweet showing Khan receiving an Afghan carpet as a present from Khalil Haqqani whom the U.S. have designated as ‘terrorists’. Khalil Haqqani is key leader of the Haqqani Network, and the Taliban Minister of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) who has up to $5 million bounty on his head.
Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency known as ISI had significant influence over the Haqqanis during the Taliban’s 20 years of brutal insurgency. Through the Haqqanis being at the center of power, Afghanistan is in full control of Pakistan due to the unbreakable ties between the network’s leader and ISI.
In the past year, Khan became more powerful than many of the Taliban leaders because of Pakistan’s close ties with the Taliban. An Afghan artist tweeted, “Pakistani ambassador in the role of a Taliban leader,” with a cartoon depiction of a Talib brushing Khan’s shoe.
During the past one year, Mr. Khan became the most engaged and popular diplomat in Afghanistan. National and international dignitaries included the UN’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, aid organizations, diplomats, foreign journalists, observers, and members of civil society lined up to meet Khan in his Kabul residence.
In most of Khan’s pictures shared on his Twitter account, Khan’s seating position has attracted major attention. Afghan social media users have reacted angrily and at times mocked the ambassador for acting as the ‘governor’ of Afghanistan.
Tenure in Austria
Mansoor Ahmad Khan was the ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Vienna between 2018 and 2020. His interference and influence on Afghan diaspora in Vienna was visible.
During Khan’s posting to Vienna, Afghan diaspora often demonstrated against the Pakistani rocket shelling on Afghanistan, ISI’s providing of sanctuaries, as well as military and logistical support to the Taliban to sustain their insurgency inside Afghanistan until the fall of former government in August last year.
Through the narrative of being “Muslim and brother” nations, Khan attempted to influence the Afghan diaspora not to demonstrate against Pakistan in Vienna. A delegation of eight agents approached the Afghan cultural association, AKIS in 2019 to bring the association on his side, but AKIS rejected the attempt. The objective was to silence “us”, Ghausuddin Mir, the president of AKIS recalled.
“If Afghanistan and Pakistan are brother nations, then why does Pakistan send suicide bombers to Afghanistan to kill Afghan brothers and sisters,” Mir asked Khan’s agents. Their response was that Afghanistan was ‘invaded by the Americans’ and “we were supporting our brothers in Afghans’ fight,” recalled Mir.
Mir has organized most of the demonstrations in Vienna against Pakistani attacks and killing of Afghan civilians in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces in eastern Afghanistan over the past several years. His most recent anti-Pakistani demonstrations were held on the 14th & 15th of August in front of the Pakistani embassy and the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna respectively to condemn the return of Taliban into power and Pakistani interferences through backing the Haqqanis.
In June 2020, Pakistan redeployed Mansoor Ahmad Khan as its ambassador from Austria to Afghanistan to facilitate the Taliban’s transition from the battlefield to become the de facto authorities in 2021. As the Taliban regained power after the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, Khan was one of the few foreign diplomats who stayed in Kabul to monitor the transition. A year after the Taliban return to power, Pakistan has reportedly replaced Mansoor Ahmad Khan in August 2022 with Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani.
With reporting by Ali Ahmad from Vienna.
Note:The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.