Afghan President vows to ‘remobilise’ forces

As Taliban advance, Ghani says he will not ‘let the imposed war on people cause further bloodshed’

August 14, 2021 10:26 pm | Updated 10:28 pm IST - Kabul

On alert:  Afghan policemen monitoring vehicles at a checkpoint in Kabul on Saturday.

On alert: Afghan policemen monitoring vehicles at a checkpoint in Kabul on Saturday.

Afghanistan’s beleaguered President vowed on Saturday to prevent further bloodshed, as Taliban fighters closed in on Kabul after routing his armed forces over the past 10 days.

In a recorded address to the nation — his first since the Taliban launched their sweeping offensive — Ashraf Ghani said he wanted to stop the violence “as a historic mission”.

“I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths,” he said.

The President gave no hint he would resign or take responsibility for the calamitous military collapse, but said the armed forces could be “remobilised” and consultations were taking place to try to help end the war.

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But he offered few specifics on what his administration was planning, with government control over Afghanistan all but collapsed.

With the country’s second- and third-largest cities having fallen into Taliban hands, Kabul has effectively become the besieged last stand for government forces who have offered little or no resistance elsewhere.

As the Taliban closed in on Kabul, panicked residents formed long lines outside banks, hoping to withdraw their savings. Some branches appeared to have already run of cash.

Insurgent fighters are now camped just 50 km away from Kabul.

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Heavy fighting was also reported around Mazar-i-Sharif, an isolated holdout in the north where warlord and former Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum had gathered his anti-Taliban militia.

The only other cities of any significance not to be taken yet were Jalalabad, Gardez, and Khost — Pashtun-dominated and unlikely to offer much resistance now.

For Kabul residents and the tens of thousands who have sought refuge there in recent weeks, the overwhelming mood was one of confusion and fear.

Muzhda, 35, a woman who arrived in the capital with her two sisters from Parwan, said she was terrified for the future. “I am crying day and night,” she said.

“I have turned down marriage proposals in the past... If the Taliban come and force me to marry, I will commit suicide.”

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