Afghanistan crisis updates | August 18, 2021

Afghan security guards try and maintain order as hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.   | Photo Credit: AP

In just seven days, Taliban have captured Afghanistan by winning city after city. With women disappearing from the streets and men donning traditional attire, people who remember the ultra conservative militant rule desperately want to flee the nation.

The U.S., which is facing criticism for the "mess in Afghanistan," has evacuated more than 3,200 people from Kabul. U.S. President Joe Biden and British prime minister Boris Johnson had a conversation with each other on the situation of Afghanistan and agreed to hold a virtual G7 leaders’ meeting next week to discuss a common strategy and approach, the White House said.

India, like many other nations, has closed its embassy and is evacuating Indians from the troubled nation. The visas of Afghans living in India is being extended and emergency visas are being given to those who wish to come to India.

Here are the latest developments:

UAE

UAE says Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in the country

The United Arab Emirates says it has accepted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family for “humanitarian considerations.”

Mr. Ghani fled Afghanistan just as the Taliban approached Kabul.- AP

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India

India should have publicly engaged with Taliban earlier: Natwar Singh

India should have publicly engaged with the Taliban before they took over Afghanistan, former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh said on Wednesday and favoured establishing diplomatic ties if they function as a responsible government going forward in the war-torn country.

Mr. Singh, who was the foreign minister in UPA-I and also served as India's Ambassador to Pakistan besides holding other senior diplomatic positions, said India should adopt a "wait and watch" approach for the time being but noted that the Taliban that have taken over seems to be a "better lot" than those that ruled there two decades earlier. - PTI

The Hindu Explains

Explainer: What’s next for Afghanistan?

The Taliban are yet to form a transition government. As the transition process is under way, the Taliban have moved to assure the foreign diplomatic missions as well as the public that they would not target anybody. Have the Taliban changed? How did the world respond?

Read more
 

 

Afghanistan

At least one dead and six injured as Taliban break up protest

An Afghan health official said that at least one person was killed and six were wounded when the Taliban violently dispersed a protest in the city of Jalalabad.

Dozens of people raised the national flag on Wednesday and lowered the Taliban’s own flag, a day before Afghanistan’s Independence Day. The Taliban opened fire and beat people with batons.- AP

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China

Will decide on recognising Taliban regime in Afghanistan only after govt. formation: China

China, on Wednesday, said that it will decide on extending diplomatic recognition to the Taliban in Afghanistan only after the formation of a government in the country, which it hoped would be "open, inclusive and broadly representative".

“China’s position on the Afghan issue is consistent and clear," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told a media briefing, answering a question that when will China accord diplomatic recognition to the Taliban insurgents.

“If we have to recognise a government, the first thing is that we will need to wait until the government is formed," he said.

He also reiterated China’s stand that besides forming an “open and inclusive” government in consultations with other factions, the Taliban must also keep its word to not permit any terrorist forces, especially the Uygur militant group from Xinjiang province- the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

According to a recent UN report, hundreds of militants, belonging to the ETIM, are converging in Afghanistan amidst the military advances made by the Taliban.- PTI

Afghanistan

Former Afghan president Karzai meets Taliban faction chief - group official

In this handout photograph released by the Taliban, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center left, senior Haqqani group leader Anas Haqqani, center right, and Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan's National Reconciliation Council and former government negotiator with the Taliban, right, meet in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 18, 2021.

In this handout photograph released by the Taliban, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center left, senior Haqqani group leader Anas Haqqani, center right, and Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan's National Reconciliation Council and former government negotiator with the Taliban, right, meet in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 18, 2021.  

 

A Taliban commander and senior leader of the Haqqani Network militant group, Anas Haqqani, has met former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, for talks, a Taliban official said on Wednesday, amid efforts by the Taliban to set up a government.

Karzai was accompanied by the old government's main peace envoy, Abdullah Abdullah, in the meeting, said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified.

The Haqqani Network is an important faction of the Taliban, who captured the capital, Kabul, on Sunday. The network, based on the border with Pakistan, was accused over the recent years of some of the most deadly militant attacks in Afghanistan.- Reuters

United Kingdom

Actions, not words count: UK PM Johnson tells the Taliban

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the Taliban would be judged on their actions, not their words, after they sought to convince the world that they would not seek revenge after seizing Afghanistan.

Addressing the parliament, which was recalled from its summer break to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Johnson ruled out any resumption of military action in the country and instead called on the United Nations to lead a humanitarian effort.

"We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes, and by its actions rather than by its words, on its attitude to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access, and the rights of girls to receive an education," Mr. Johnson said.

Britain has said that it will welcome up to 5,000 Afghans during the first year of a new resettlement programme that will prioritise women, girls and religious and other minorities, as part of Western plans to help those leaving the country.- Reuters

Afghanistan

Taliban destroys statue of Shiite foe from 1990s civil war

The Taliban have blown up the statue of Shiite militia leader, Abdul Ali Mazari, who had fought against them during Afghanistan's civil war in the 1990s, according to photos circulating on social media on Wednesday.

Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia leader, was killed by the Taliban in 1996, when the militants seized power from the rival warlords. Mazari was a champion of the Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara minority, Shiites who were persecuted under the Sunni Taliban's earlier rule.

The statue stood in the central Bamyan province, where the Taliban infamously blew up two massive 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha carved into a mountain in 2001, shortly before the U.S.-led invasion that drove them from power. The Taliban had claimed that the statues of Buddha violated Islam's prohibition on idolatry.- AP

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Shajapur

Centre to make all efforts to bring back Indians from Afghanistan: Scindia

Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has said that the Central Government will make all efforts, like it did in the 'Vande Bharat Mission', to bring back Indian citizens from Afghanistan.

“The Indian government will bring its citizens back to their homes from Afghanistan, like we did in the Vande Bharat Mission, through Air India and the Indian Air Force (IAF) planes, whichever way is possible,” Mr. Scindia told reporters in Madhya Pradesh's Shajapur on Tuesday.

Mr. Scindia also said that the Union government had started the evacuation from Afghanistan last Friday.- PTI

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European Union

EU eyes talks with Taliban but no plans to recognize them

The European Union has no immediate plans to recognize the Taliban after their sweeping victory in Afghanistan but will talk with the militants to ensure that the European citizens and Afghans, who have worked with the EU, can leave safely, the bloc’s top diplomat said.

Speaking after leading emergency talks among the EU's foreign ministers, EU Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, also underlined the importance of opening talks with the Taliban to help prevent a new exodus of refugees as a humanitarian crisis unfolds in the conflict-ravaged country.

“We have to get in touch with the authorities in Kabul, whatever they are. The Taliban have won the war, so we will have to talk with them,” Mr. Borrell told reporters. “This dialogue will also have to focus on the means to prevent the return of foreign terrorists,” he said.

The EU has decided to suspend development assistance to the Afghan government now that the Taliban has seized power, but the 27-nation bloc is weighing whether to boost humanitarian aid.- AP

Australia

Australia flies out 26 from Kabul, plans more

Australia has evacuated the first 26 people, including Australian and Afghan citizens, from Kabul since the Taliban overran the Afghan capital, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.

An Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft landed at an Australian military base in the United Arab Emirates with the 26, including a foreign official working for an international agency, Mr. Morrison said. The remainder were Australians and Afghans.

Australia plans to evacuate 130 Australians and their families plus an undisclosed number of Afghans who have worked for the Australian soldiers and diplomats in roles such as interpreters.- AP

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan not keen to admit Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban

As the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, neighboring Uzbekistan appears wary of a flood of Afghan refugees. Thousands of Afghans have been looking for ways to escape, what they see as, a return of a ruthless fundamentalist rule.

Afghan citizens who applied for Uzbek visas in recent months, told The Associated Press that Uzbekistan has been refusing visas to Afghans, citing coronavirus concerns.

Experts note that the Uzbek authorities have long maintained a tightly closed border with Afghanistan, fearing an influx of extremists, and have only accepted a handful of asylum-seekers from its unstable neighbour.- AP

Pakistan

Imran Khan urges international community to stay engaged with Afghanistan economically

Asserting that Pakistan is reaching out to all Afghan leaders for a peaceful settlement of the current crisis in the neighbouring nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to stay engaged, particularly to support the people of the war-ravaged nation economically.

Mr. Khan also underscored the immense importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for Pakistan and the region, stressing that the safety and security, as well as protection of the rights of all Afghans was critically important.

He said that an inclusive political settlement was the best way forward to resolve the Afghan crisis and added that Pakistan is facilitating the evacuation of diplomatic personnel and staff of international organisations from Afghanistan. - PTI

New Delhi

'Sikhs from Kabul will be brought to India soon': Minister

Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on August 17, said the Indian authorities are in touch with a group of Sikhs taking shelter in a gurudwara near Kabul in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country, and that they will be brought to India as soon as possible. Mr. Puri, who was approached by BJP MP Hans Raj Hans for help to the Sikhs, also discussed the issue with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

'Sikhs from Kabul will be brought to India soon': Minister

Hyderabad

For Afghan women, it's a dreading rerun of a nightmare

Dispossessed Afghan women and children from Kunduz pray at a mosque that is sheltering displaced people on August 13, 2021.

Dispossessed Afghan women and children from Kunduz pray at a mosque that is sheltering displaced people on August 13, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

After the Taliban completely took over Afghanistan a few days ago, shivers ran down the spines of lakhs of Afghans, especially women. The restrictions imposed on women by the Taliban during their rule over the country from 1996-2001 have resurfaced.

The young woman who has completed Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Osmania University and stays in Hyderabad, Telangana, heard about the strict curbs imposed on women through her family members. The fresh graduate fears the dark times will return.

For Afghan women, it's a dreading rerun of a nightmare

New Delhi

EAM Jaishankar discusses Afghan situation with U.N. chief Guterres

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on August 17, met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres here and discussed the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.

“Good to meet UN Secretary General @antonioguterres. Our discussions focused on Afghanistan, following upon the Security Council meeting yesterday,” Mr. Jaishankar said in a tweet.

“Significant UN Security Council discussions today on developments in Afghanistan. Expressed the concerns of the international community. Expect to discuss these during my engagements at the UN,” Mr. Jaishankar had tweeted on August 16.

EAM Jaishankar discusses Afghan situation with U.N. chief Guterres

New Delhi

Afghans in India | “Everything changed suddenly, silently”

Afghan nationals waiting outside their Embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Afghan nationals waiting outside their Embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

 

People who arrived at the Embassy of Afghanistan on Tuesday for paperwork and other formalities, recounted how the situation in Kabul had taken a drastic turn for the worse over the last couple of days.

With family members and relatives still in Kabul, some said the common citizen was paying the price for trusting a government that ultimately “fled”.

For Mohammed, who reached the national capital from Kabul on August 8 with three of his family members, it had been a close shave. “When we left Kabul, the situation was not as bad and it started to deteriorate only a couple of days later. It just got worse by the day and people were scrambling to get visas. We do not know how all of it happened so suddenly and silently. For a long time, we thought maybe the Taliban won’t reach Kabul very soon,” said the 32-year-old.

Afghans in India | “Everything changed suddenly, silently”

USA

U.S. lawmakers set hearing to probe events in Afghanistan

Members of the U.S. Congress, including many of President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats, said on August 17, they were increasingly frustrated with events in Afghanistan, and they vowed to investigate what went wrong.

"The events of recent days have been the culmination of a series of mistakes made by Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 20 years," Senator Bob Menendez,Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,said in a statement.

U.S. lawmakers set hearing to probe events in Afghanistan

USA

Ex-U.S. President Bush says U.S. must quickly aid Afghan refugees

Former U.S. President George W. Bush, who launched a "war on terror" in Afghanistan and elsewhere following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, urged the U.S. government to expedite help for Afghan refugees following the Taliban's swift takeover in recent days.

"The United States government has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crises. And we have the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now, without bureaucratic delay," Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said in a statement late on August 16.

Ex-U.S. President Bush says U.S. must quickly aid Afghan refugees

 

USA

U.S. probing deaths at plane takeoff in Kabul

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers are seen near a checkpoint, in Bagram. United States will continue air strikes in support of Afghan forces fighting the Taliban, a top U.S. general said on Sunday, as the insurgents press on with offensives across the country.

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers are seen near a checkpoint, in Bagram. United States will continue air strikes in support of Afghan forces fighting the Taliban, a top U.S. general said on Sunday, as the insurgents press on with offensives across the country.   | Photo Credit: AFP

 

The United States Air Force has said that its Office of Special Investigations is reviewing an incident at the Kabul airport on Monday, August 16, 2021, in which multiple people were killed when hundreds of Afghan civilians desperate to leave the country swarmed a C-17 cargo plane as it was attempting to take off.

The Air Force did not say how many people died. It said human remains were found in the plane's wheel well after it landed at al-Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state of Qatar.

U.S. probing deaths at plane takeoff in Kabul

USA

US military evacuated more than 3,200 people so far from Kabul: White House

The U.S. has so far evacuated more than 3,200 people from Kabul, including 1,100 on Tuesday alone, the White House said, after the Taliban insurgents seized power in Afghanistan.

“Today, U.S. military flights evacuated approximately 1,100 U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and their families on 13 flights, 12 with C-17 sorties and one with a C-130. Now that we have established the flow, we expect those numbers to escalate,” a White House official said on Tuesday.

US military evacuated more than 3,200 people so far from Kabul: White House

Afghanistan

Taliban promise women's rights, security under Islamic rule

The Taliban vowed on August 17,  to respect women's rights, forgive those who fought them and ensure Afghanistan does not become a haven for terrorists as part of a publicity blitz aimed at reassuring world powers and a fearful population.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's longtime spokesman, promised the Taliban would honor women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law, without elaborating. The Taliban have encouraged women to return to work and have allowed girls to return to school, handing out Islamic headscarves at the door. A female news anchor interviewed a Taliban official on August 16 in a TV studio.

Taliban promise women's rights, security under Islamic rule

 

USA

Joe Biden, Boris Johnson agree to hold G7 meeting on Afghan crisis

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on August 17, 2021, on the situation in Afghanistan and they agreed to hold a virtual G7 leaders’ meeting next week to discuss a common strategy and approach, the White House said.

The two leaders "discussed the need for continued close oordination among allies and democratic partners on Afghanistan policy going forward, including ways the global community can provide further humanitarian assistance and support for refugees and other vulnerable Afghans," the White House said in a statement.

Joe Biden, Boris Johnson agree to hold G7 meeting on Afghan crisis

USA

Taliban agree to allow civilian ‘’safe passage’’, says White House

The Taliban have agreed to allow “safe passage” from Afghanistan for civilians hoping to join a US-directed airlift from the capital, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on August 17, although a timetable for completing the evacuation of Americans, Afghan allies and possibly other civilians has yet to be worked out with the country’s new rulers.

Mr. Sullivan acknowledged reports that some civilians were encountering resistance, “being turned away or pushed back or even beaten”, as they tried to reach the Kabul international airport.

Pentagon officials said that after interruptions on Monday, the airlift was back on track and being accelerated despite weather problems, amid regular communication with Taliban leaders. Additional US troops arrived and more were on the way, with a total of more than 6,000 expected to be involved in securing the airport in coming days.

Taliban agree to allow civilian ‘’safe passage’’, says White House

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 12:23:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/afghanistan-crisis-live-updates/article35969623.ece

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