Caught Smuggling Gold, Afghan Consul General In Mumbai Resigns

Ms Wardak had been intercepted at the Mumbai airport with 25 kg of gold.

New Delhi:

Soon after it came to light that she had been intercepted while allegedly trying to smuggle 25 kg of gold worth about Rs 18 crore into India from Dubai, Afghanistan’s Consul General in Mumbai has announced that she is stepping down. Zakia Wardak, who is the seniormost Afghan diplomat in India, attributed her decision to “personal attacks and defamation” and a “public narrative unfairly targeting the only female representative within this system”.

Ms Wardak had been intercepted with the gold at the Mumbai airport by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in the last week of April. Reports said the gold was seized and a case was registered but she was not arrested because she enjoys diplomatic immunity. 

The diplomat was appointed by the previous Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan, which was replaced by the Taliban in 2021. India still works with the appointees of the Ghani government.

In a statement announcing her decision to step down from her post effective Sunday, Ms Wardak said, “Over the past year, I have encountered numerous personal attacks and defamation not only directed towards me but also towards my close family and extended relatives.”

“These attacks, which appear to be organised, have severely impacted my ability to effectively operate in my role and have demonstrated the challenges faced by women in Afghan society who strive to modernise and bring positive change amidst ongoing propaganda campaigns,” she said.

The diplomat said that while attacks on her were not surprising since she is in public life, she was not prepared for the toll they took on people close to her. 

“The persistent and coordinated nature of these attacks, aimed at defaming my character and undermining my efforts, have surpassed a tolerable threshold. It has become increasingly clear that the public narrative is unfairly targeting the only female representative within this system, rather than focusing on constructive assistance and support,” she alleged.

Mr Wardak also thanked the Indian government for the “warm welcome and unwavering support” during her tenure. “It has been a great privilege working alongside the people of India for the past three years. I am grateful for the collaborative efforts and shared vision for progress between our nations,” she wrote in the statement. 

“I sincerely hope for a future where women in leadership roles are supported and respected, where opportunities for progress are embraced rather than met with hostility and defamation. My commitment to advocating for positive change remains unwavering despite this decision,” she said.