Afghanistan crisis updates | September 4, 2021

Afghan Resistance Movement forces take part in a military training in Panjshir province on September 2 as the valley remains the last major holdout of anti-Taliban forces.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The Taliban sources are claiming that they have seized control over Panjshir valley, the last standing province that the Taliban has not been able to capture, according to a Reuters  report. However, a Resistance leader denied that the province had fallen. Panjshir valley is the only province that had resisted the first Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban, is inching close to forming a government after the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the war-torn country. Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar is likely to lead a new Afghan government that could be announced soon.

The question still remains if many countries across the world will recognise the Taliban government in Afghanistan, and change the foreign policy accordingly.

Here are the latest developments:

5.03 pm

Kabul airport reopens to receive aid, domestic flights restart

Qatar's ambassador to Afghanistan said a technical team was able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid, according to Qatar's Al Jazeera news channel, which also cited its correspondent as saying domestic flights had restarted.

The airport's runway has been repaired in cooperation with authorities in Afghanistan, the ambassador said, according to Al Jazeera. The channel said two domestic flights were operated from Kabul to the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar. -Reuters

5.00 pm

At least 17 killed in celebratory gunfire in Kabul- reports

At least 17 people were killed in celebratory gunfire in Kabul, news agencies said on Saturday, after Taliban sources said their fighters had seized control of Panjshir, the last province in Afghanistan holding out against the Islamist group.

Leaders of opposition to the Taliban have denied that the province has fallen.

The Shamshad news agency said "aerial shooting" in Kabul on Friday killed 17 people and wounded 41. Tolo news agency gave a similar toll.

At least 14 people were injured in celebratory firing in Nangarhar Province east of the capital, said Gulzada Sangar, spokesman for an area hospital in the provincial capital of Jalalabad.

The gunfire drew a rebuke from the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.

"Avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead," Mujahid said in a message on Twitter. "Bullets can harm civilians, so don't shoot unnecessarily."

- Reuters

1.45 pm

U.S. presses Pakistan to fight terror groups as Afghan crisis spirals: leaked diplomatic documents

The Biden administration is quietly pressing Pakistan to cooperate on combating dreaded terrorist groups such as the ISIS-K and Al Qaeda following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, according to a set of leaked documents and diplomatic cables to a prominent US media outlet.

The Dawn newspaper on Saturday carried a report quoting a news report published on Friday by the Politico on a slew of diplomatic messages exchanged between Washington and Islamabad recently after the Taliban insurgents seized power in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The messages show that "the Biden administration is quietly pressing Pakistan to cooperate on fighting terrorist groups such as ISIS-Khorasan and Al Qaeda in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan," the Politico, which obtained the sensitive but unclassified cables and other written materials, reported.

- PTI

1.15 pm

U.S. building ''small cities'' at bases for Afghans

U.S. military bases housing Afghanistan evacuees are building their own city-type leadership organisations to deal with sanitation, food and other challenges as the numbers of Afghans coming into the U.S. grows.

Air Force General Glen VanHerck, who heads U.S. Northern Command, said there were more than 25,000 Afghan evacuees being housed at the eight bases as of Friday.

He acknowledged there have been problems as the bases grapple with language, cultural and other issues.

He said he is "building eight small cities, we're going to have challenges.” He said the bases have designated a military officer as a “Mayor” to be in charge of a couple dorms or housing units and an Afghan counterpart who can communicate about any ongoing issues.

- PTI

1 pm

Taliban fire weapons into air, at least 2 killed

An official at Emergency Hospital in Kabul says two people were killed and 12 wounded after Taliban fighters in the capital fired their weapons into the air in celebration on Friday night.

Taliban in Kabul fired into the air on Friday night to 'celebrate' gains on the battlefield in Panjshir province, which still remains under the control of anti-Taliban fighters.

The hospital official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter criticized the practice of firing into the air and called on the militants to stop it immediately

Tolo TV  reported that 17 bodies and 41 wounded people were transferred to Emergency Hospital.

- AP

12 pm

U.N. chief to hold meeting on Afghanistan funding

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres will convene a ministerial meeting in Geneva on September 13 to seek a swift scale-up in funding to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where nearly half the country’s 38 million people need assistance.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric made the announcement Friday and said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also appeal “for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need.”

Mr. Dujarric said the U.N. appeal for $1.3 billion for 2021 to help more than 18 million people is just 40% funded, leaving a $766 million deficit.

- AP

10.30 am

California Governor seeks $16.7M in aid for Afghan refugees

California's Governor and legislative leaders on Friday requested $16.7 million in state money to help resettle Afghan refugees in the state.

The request to use general fund money to help those fleeing the Taliban takeover signals “that California stands ready to assist those in need," Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

“As the nation's most diverse state, we don't simply tolerate diversity, we celebrate it." The funding request by Mr. Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was expected to be considered during next week's legislative session.

- PTI

10.15 am

Taliban indicated they'd be reasonable in addressing Indian concerns: Foreign Secretary Shringla

In the limited engagement that India has had with the Taliban, the new Afghan rulers have indicated that they would be reasonable in addressing New Delhi’s concerns, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

Observing that the situation in Afghanistan is very fluid and moving fast, Mr. Shringla said that both India and the US are keeping a close watch on it. “Look on 15th of August, you had a situation where (Afghan) President (Ashraf) Ghani suddenly left. You had the Taliban come in. The situation is moving so fast it's so fluid that is difficult to comment at this point of time on anything,” he said.

Mr. Shringla said the US is watching the situation in Afghanistan very closely. “They will obviously see how different players get engaged in the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a neighbour of Afghanistan. They have supported and nurtured the Taliban. There are various elements there that Pakistan supported,” he said.

- PTI

10 am

Expect to have real, inclusive government in Afghanistan: U.S. Secretary of State

The United States and the international community expects the Taliban to form an inclusive government with representations from different communities and interests, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.

“As we've said and as countries around the world have said, there is an expectation that any government that emerges now will have some real inclusivity, and that it will have non-Talibs in it who are representative of different communities and different interests in Afghanistan,” Blinken told reporters.

- PTI

9 am

Taliban sources say last Afghan holdout region falls; Resistance denies claim

Three Taliban sources told Reuters  that the Islamist militia had on Friday seized the Panjshir valley north of Kabul, the last province of Afghanistan holding out against it, although a resistance leader denied it had fallen. "By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are in control of the entire Afghanistan. The troublemakers have been defeated and Panjshir is now under our command," said one Taliban commander.

- Reuters

8 am

Afghan women take to streets, demand right to work and more inclusiveness

A small group of Afghan women protested near the presidential palace in Kabul on Friday, demanding equal rights from the Taliban as Afghanistan's new rulers work on forming a government and seeking international recognition.

The protest in Kabul was the second women's protest in as many days, with the other held in the western city of Herat. Around 20 women with microphones gathered under the watchful eyes of Taliban gunmen, who allowed the demonstration to proceed.

The women demanded access to education, the right to return to work and a role in governing the country. "Freedom is our motto. It makes us proud,” read one of their signs.

- AP

7.30 am

Amrullah Saleh refutes reports stating he had fled the country

Deposed Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the opposition forces, told Tolo News television station that reports he had fled the country were lies.

And in a video clip posted on Twitter by a BBC World journalist who said it had been sent by Mr. Saleh, he said: "There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation. We are under invasion by the Taliban ... We have held the ground, we have resisted."

He also tweeted: "The RESISTANCE is continuing and will continue. I am here with my soil, for my soil & defending its dignity."

- Reuters

7 am

U.S. expects to admit more than 50,000 evacuated Afghans

At least 50,000 Afghans are expected to be admitted into the United States following the fall of Kabul as part of an “enduring commitment" to help people who aided the American war effort and others who are particularly vulnerable under Taliban rule, the Secretary of Homeland Security said on Friday.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have already made it through security vetting and arrived in the U.S. to begin the process of resettlement. Exactly how many more will come and how long it will take remain open questions, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said as he outlined the effort.

- PTI

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