Afghanistan crisis updates | August 24, 2021

The G7, chaired by UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson, is set to hold an emergency meeting to discuss Afghan situation. Evacuations continue in full swing.

August 24, 2021 11:22 am | Updated 09:29 pm IST

Following the capture of power by the Taliban in now war-torn Afghanistan, the Group of Seven (G7) leaders from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are set to conduct an emergency meeting to continue to stand by the Afghan people and step up support for refugees and humanitarian aid.  

Here are the latest developments:

LONDON

Taliban will be judged by deeds, not words, says Boris Johnson ahead of G7 meet

The Taliban will be judged by its deeds rather than words, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said ahead of chairing an emergency G7 virtual meet to coordinate international response to the Afghan crisis.

Downing Street said that during the meeting Tuesday, the UK PM will call on Group of Seven (G7) leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States to continue to stand by the Afghan people and step up support for refugees and humanitarian aid.

According to a Downing Street communique, the G7 is expected to reiterate its commitment to safeguarding the gains made in Afghanistan over the last 20 years – in particular on girls’ education and the rights of women and minorities.

The meeting will take place by video conference and the NATO and UN Secretaries-General have also been invited to join the discussion.

It comes as the Taliban issued a stark warning that it would not entertain any suggestion of an extension to the August 31 deadline for the US-led NATO troops to exit Kabul. - PTI

 

GENEVA

UN rights chief warns of abuses amid Taliban's Afghan blitz

The UN human rights chief warned Tuesday that she had received credible reports of severe abuses in areas under Taliban control in Afghanistan, including “summary executions” of civilians and security forces who had laid down their arms and restrictions on women.

Michelle Bachelet urged the Human Rights Council to take “bold and vigorous action” to monitor the rights situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban's stunning takeover raised fears that they will return the country to the brutal rule they imposed when they were last in power.

Amid scattered reports, it has been difficult to determine how widespread abuses might be, whether they reflect that Taliban leaders are saying one thing and doing another, or if fighters on the ground are taking matters into their own hands. - PTI

 

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban appoint Finance Minister, Intelligence Chief in Afghanistan: report

The Taliban have appointed a new Finance Minister, an Intelligence Chief, and an acting Interior Minister in Afghanistan, the Pajhwok news agency reported on Tuesday.

It said Gul Agha would be the Finance Minister and Sadr Ibrahim would be the acting Interior Minister. Najibullah would be Intelligence Chief, while Mullah Shirin would be Kabul Governor and Hamdullah Nomani the Mayor of the capital city, Kabul. - REUTERS

INTERNATIONAL

China says U.S. army must be held accountable for Afghanistan actions

China's envoy to the U.N. in Geneva said on Tuesday that the U.S. army and the militaries of other coalition partners should be held accountable for alleged rights violations they committed in Afghanistan.

"The US, UK, Australia and other countries must be held accountable for the violation of human rights committed by their military in Afghanistan and the evolution of this current session should cover this issue," China's ambassador Chen Xu told an emergency session of the Human Rights Council on Afghanistan.

"Under the banner of democracy and human rights the US and other countries carry out military interventions in other sovereign states and impose their own model on countries with vastly different history and culture," he said, saying this brought "great suffering". - REUTERS

PAKISTAN

Pakistan urges 'inclusive' deal with Taliban

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that an inclusive political settlement is the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. Pakistan fully supports efforts in that direction, he added.

According to a foreign ministry statement, Mr. Qureshi made the remarks in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, about the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. File

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. File

The statement says Mr. Qureshi told Mr. Lavrov that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the region. It said that Mr. Qureshi informed Mr. Lavrov about Pakistan's outreach to regional countries for consultations on the challenges arising out of developments in Afghanistan.

Mr. Qureshi is expected to leave for Uzbekistan on August 24. He is set to travel to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Iran to discuss Afghan developments. - PTI

INDIA

India's evacuation mission from Afghanistan named "Operation Devi Shakti"

India's complex mission to evacuate its citizens and Afghan partners from Kabul after its swift takeover by the Taliban last week has been named "Operation Devi Shakti".

The name of the operation was known when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar mentioned it in a tweet on Tuesday while referring to the arrival of a fresh batch of 78 evacuees in Delhi.

 

India began the complex evacuation mission by airlifting 40 Indians from Kabul to Delhi on August 16, a day after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital city.

So far, India has evacuated over 800 people amid a deteriorating security situation in Kabul.- PTI

INTERNATIONAL

India evacuates 77 persons from Afghanistan, more flights expected

A special flight of Air India arrived here on Tuesday morning carrying 77 stranded persons from Kabul, including 46 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus . The passengers brought three Shri Guru Granth Sahib from various Gurudwaras in Afghanistan. The travellers were evacuated on Monday from Kabul in an Indian Air Force flight and spent the night at Dushanbe before being airlifted in a special Air India flight.

Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan and the Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri received the Sikh holy books at the Delhi airport.

India is likely to operate a few more flights to evacuate Afghan and stranded Indian citizens in the coming days, said Mr. Chandhoke. Kabul continued to remain tense with hundreds of people pouring in from various parts of Afghanistan at the airport which remains under the control of the U.S. forces.

India has maintained focus on evacuating Sikhs and Hindus while also helping some of the lawmakers and officials associated with the government of President Ashraf Ghani. - KallolBhattacherjee

AI 1956, A special flight of Air India, enroute to Delhi from Dushanbe carrying 78 passengers, including 25 Indian nationals.

AI 1956, A special flight of Air India, enroute to Delhi from Dushanbe carrying 78 passengers, including 25 Indian nationals.

India evacuates 77 persons from Afghanistan, more flights expected

 

JAKARTA

Afghan refugees in Indonesia call for expedited resettlement

Hundreds of Afghan refugees protested in Indonesia on Tuesday against a prolonged resettlement process, saying they needed to be offered new homes now that repatriation was out of the question with the return of the Taliban.

Thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, most of them from the Hazara ethnic minority, who have long been persecuted by the Taliban, have lived in Indonesia for years as they await resettlement in third countries such as Canada or Australia.

"In the past year the UNHCR has been telling us there is only one percent chance of resettlement,” refugee Hakmat Ziraki said.

"Today we come here to ask 'what is your answer now? Are you still encouraging voluntary repatriation'?” "Our people are dying every day," he said. "We need some justice, we need resettlement.”

Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees and is predominately seen as a transit country for those seeking asylum to a third country. - REUTERS

 

INTERNATIONAL

Considering Afghanistan players’ mental health, series against Pakistan postponed

Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Pakistan has been postponed indefinitely due to logistical issues and keeping in mind the mental health of the players following Taliban’s takeover of the strife-torn nation.

Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Pakistan has been postponed indefinitely due to logistical issues and keeping in mind the mental health of the players following Taliban’s takeover of the strife-torn nation. File

Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Pakistan has been postponed indefinitely due to logistical issues and keeping in mind the mental health of the players following Taliban’s takeover of the strife-torn nation. File

 

Afghanistan was supposed to host Pakistan in Sri Lanka from September 3 but on Monday, both the ACB and PCB mutually agreed to host the series in Pakistan.

However, later in the day, ACB came to the conclusion that it was best to put the series on hold with its players not getting enough time to prepare due to the regime change in the country. The flight operations have also been suspended at Kabul airport.

“Due to the overall conditions including mental health of the players, we had to postpone the series,” said ACB CEO Hamid Shinwari.

Mr. Shinwari had earlier said that he doesn’t expect cricket to face any issues under Taliban rule as it has “always supported the game”.

Both the boards will try to reschedule the series in 2022. - PTI

 

LONDON

Britain 'not going to get' everyone out of Kabul

Britain says it has evacuated 8,600 U.K. citizens and Afghans from Kabul in recent days, 2,000 of them in the last 24 hours.

But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace conceded that “we’re not going to get everybody out of the country” before the U.S.-led mission ends on August 31.

Britain and other allies are pressing President Joe Biden to extend the evacuation past the date agreed with the Taliban. But Wallace told it’s unlikely Biden will agree. - AP

WASHINGTON

US says it is focused on completing evacuation from Afghanistan by Aug 31

The Biden Administration on Monday said it is now focused on completing its evacuation mission from Afghanistan by August 31, the deadline for removing all American troops from the country.

However, a final decision to extend the evacuation mission from the Kabul airport would be taken by President Joe Biden, according to officials from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.

The US currently has 5,800 troops at the Kabul airport, who are mainly engaged in evacuating its citizens and all those Afghans who helped the United States during its stay in the country for the last 20 years. - PTI

 

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban takeover prompts fears of a resurgent Al-Qaida

The lightning-fast changes in Afghanistan are forcing the Biden administration to confront the prospect of a resurgent Al-Qaida, the group that attacked America on September 11, 2001, at the same time the US is trying to monitor violent extremism at home and cyber attacks from Russia and China.

With the rapid withdrawal of US forces and rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, “I think Al-Qaida has an opportunity, and they're going to take advantage of that opportunity," says Chris Costa, who was senior director for counter-terrorism in the Trump administration. - PTI

 

LONDON

Evacuation window at Kabul airport unlikely to be extended, says UK Defence Minister

Western governments are unlikely to extend the evacuation window to allow their citizens and Afghans more time to fly out of Kabul airport, Britain's defence minister Ben Wallace said.

Mr. Wallace told he was doubtful there would be an extension "not only because of what the Taliban has said but also if you look at the public statements of President Biden, I think it is unlikely."

"It is definitely worth us all trying and we will," he added. - REUTERS

 

LONDON

Other G7 leaders to press Biden to extend Kabul evacuation deadline

U.S. President Joe Biden will face pressure to extend an August 31 deadline to evacuate thousands seeking to flee the Taliban in Afghanistan when he meets Group of Seven (G7) leaders at a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

Western nations are struggling to bring home their own citizens and desperate Afghans massing at Kabul airport are seeking to flee the country fearing reprisals after Taliban militants seized control just over a week ago.

It has led to chaotic scenes at the airport, with some 20 people killed in stampedes and shootings, amid a panic to catch flights out of the country before the United States and its allies pull out their troops.

The manner of the withdrawal, 20 years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban following the September 11, 2001, attacks, has strained tensions between Washington and other Western capitals, where there has been dismay at its timing and how it has been carried out. - REUTERS

 

WASHINGTON

Taliban rule presents aid agencies with moral, fiscal dilemma

As foreign governments, aid institutions and companies scramble to evacuate staff from Afghanistan, a crucial question is emerging: should they engage with the ruling Taliban or abandon years of investment in the country and 38 million Afghans?

For foreign aid agencies the situation presents "a paradox," said Robert Crews, a Stanford University history professor and author of the 2015 book "Afghan Modern: The History of a Global Nation."

"If you are an aid worker at a state hospital, you are serving a regime whose legitimacy is in the balance," he said. "But if everybody goes home, will the state collapse?"

Afghanistan's government budget is 70% to 80% funded by international donors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said Michael McKinley, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan in 2015 and 2016.

The country faces economic collapse without that aid.

While foreign governments and aid groups evacuate thousands of people, they're leaving billions of dollars in projects hanging in the balance, much of it through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. - REUTERS

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