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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: Taliban capture key cities, Ghani says will not allow ‘imposed war’

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: In another development, according to an Afghan lawmaker, the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, has fallen to the Taliban after the insurgents launched a major assault there, AP reported.

By: Express Web Desk | Kabul, New Delhi |
Updated: August 15, 2021 4:52:56 pm
taliban latest news, Afghanistan latest news update, Kabul news, Afghanistan Kabul news, taliban Kabul news, USA afghanistan, afghanistan news, afghanistan taliban latest news, taliban afghanistan news, taliban afghanistan, Taliban news today, Afghanistan crisis, Afghanistan taliban crisis, us afghanistan, us afghanistan news, us afghanistan, afghanistan taliban war, afghanistan taliban war latest news, afghanistan taliban war news todaySmoke rises after fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel in the city of Kandahar, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. (AP)

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: In his first televised address to the nation since Taliban advance, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani Saturday said he will not allow “the imposed war” on Afghans to bring further killings, loss of the gains of past 20 years, destruction of public property and continued instability, reported TOLOnews. “I assure you that as your president my focus is to prevent further instability, violence and displacement of the people,” TOLOnews quoted Ghani as saying. Ghani also said that he was consulting local leaders and international partners regarding the situation in the country.

The Taliban captured Logar province, situated less than 80 kilometres south of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Saturday, reported The Associated Press. Homa Ahmadi, a lawmaker from Logar, claimed the Taliban now controlled the entire province including its capital, and had even reached a district in the neighbouring Kabul province.

In another development, the insurgents took over the main radio station in Kandahar on Saturday, and renamed it the Voice of Sharia, or Islamic law. In a video released by the group, an unnamed insurgent said it would be henceforth be used to broadcast news and recite the Quran. Music would no longer be played on it.

Fears are growing that an assault on the capital city of Kabul could be near. The Indian Express reporter Shubhajit Roy reports from Kabul: “This is a city nervous and fearful of what lies ahead, dreading the thought of a return to times when women had no rights, music was taboo and life, as they have known it these past many years, did not exist.

“Officials and diplomats in Kabul are watching the Taliban advance with great concern. The political situation is unfolding rapidly in Kabul, and there is speculation of a change in leadership, perhaps a power-sharing arrangement that will stop bloodshed. But no one is sure, and rumours fly thick and fast.”

Live Blog

Taliban takes Logar, Kandahar, Herat ; 18 of 34 provincial capitals in Afghanistan are now under Taliban control.  Follow all the latest updates on Afghanistan here.

06:29 (IST)15 Aug 2021
Mazar falls, hundreds throng Kabul passport office, waiting for passage out of Afghanistan

Karte Seh in west Kabul is home to the middle class, a dusty neighbourhood which has been mostly quiet since the mid-1990s when Mujahideen outfits, vying for control of the city, fought pitched battles in its lanes and streets.

But on Saturday, hours before the key northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif fell to the Taliban, Karte Seh was a beehive of activity, its peace shattered by Toyotas, some gleaming, most rickety, packing its roads. People came in droves, all headed to one building in the neighbourhood: Kabul’s main passport office. Read More

04:55 (IST)15 Aug 2021
Biden orders 1,000 more troops to aid Afghanistan departure

President Joe Biden authorised on Saturday an additional 1,000 US troops for deployment to Afghanistan, raising to roughly 5,000 the number of US troops to ensure what Biden called an "orderly and safe drawdown" of American and allied personnel.
      
US troops will also help in the evacuation of Afghans who worked with the military during the nearly two-decade war.
    
The last-minute decision to re-insert thousands of US troops into Afghanistan reflected the dire state of security as the Taliban seized control of multiple Afghan cities in a few short days. 
    
The need for more forces also called into question whether Biden would meet his August 31 deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces. (AP)

01:58 (IST)15 Aug 2021
Central Afghan province surrenders to Taliban without fight

An Afghan lawmaker says the central province of Daykundi has surrendered to the Taliban without a fight.

Provincial lawmaker Sayed Mohammad Daud Nasiri says that only two gunshots were heard in the provincial capital of Nili before all the provincial installations were surrendered to the insurgents.

The development late on Saturday is the latest in an apparently unstoppable blitz by the Taliban who are now approaching the country's capital, Kabul. (AP) 

01:03 (IST)15 Aug 2021
Taliban capture key northern city, approach Afghan capital

The Taliban have captured a large, heavily defended city in northern Afghanistan in a major setback for the government, and the insurgents are approaching the capital less than three weeks before the U.S. hopes to complete its troop withdrawal.

The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, the country's fourth largest city, which Afghan forces and two powerful former warlords had pledged to defend, hands the insurgents control over all of northern Afghanistan, confining the Western-backed government to the center and east.

Abas Ebrahimzada, a lawmaker from the Balkh province where the city is located, said the national army surrendered first, which prompted pro-government militias and other forces to lose morale and give up in the face of a Taliban onslaught launched earlier Saturday. (AP)

00:21 (IST)15 Aug 2021
More Marines arrive in Kabul to aid urgent embassy airlift

A fresh contingent of Marines arrived in Kabul on Saturday as part of a 3,000-troop force intended to secure an airlift of U.S. Embassy personnel and Afghan allies as Taliban insurgents approach the outskirts of the capital.

The last-minute decision to re-insert thousands of U.S. troops into Afghanistan reflects the dire state of security and calls into question whether President Joe Biden will meet his Aug. 31 deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces. (AP)

23:00 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, falls to Taliban: Afghan lawmaker

An Afghan lawmaker said the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, has fallen to the Taliban after the insurgents launched a major assault there, news agency AP reported.

22:34 (IST)14 Aug 2021
As Taliban tighten their grip, Kabul airport only way out

As a Taliban offensive encircles the Afghan capital, there's increasingly only one way out for those fleeing the war, and only one way in for US troops sent to protect American diplomats still on the ground: Kabul's international airport.

A steady stream of people makes its way first to ticket sale counters set up on the parking lot outside the terminal. They push their luggage, load carts with carpets, television sets and mementos, stuff clothes inside purses to make their weight limit as they slowly inch forward. The lucky ones, those who managed to get a ticket for a flight out to anywhere, then wait more than three hours to make it inside the terminal, bidding tearful goodbyes to loved ones they are leaving behind. As the Taliban draw closer, the lines and the panic only grow. --AP

21:58 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Russia interested in involving India, Iran to bring peace in Afghanistan: Lavrov

Emphasising that international mediators can play a significant role in Afghanistan, Russia has said that it is interested in involving India and Iran to bring peace in the war-ravaged country. India, a major stakeholder in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, was not invited to the 'extended Troika' meeting held in Qatar on August 11. Talks under the format had earlier taken place on March 18 and April 30.

After holding the crucial meeting on the situation in Afghanistan that was attended by the US, Pakistan, Russia and China, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told media on Friday that Russia supports the political settlement in Afghanistan based on the decisions of the UN Security Council and regrets that the Taliban is attempting to resolve the situation in the country by using force. He said that Russia supports the Afghan settlement happening with the participation of all political, ethnic, confessional forces of the country. --PTI

21:04 (IST)14 Aug 2021
SGPC urges Centre to ensure safety of Sikhs living in Afghanistan

The SGPC on Saturday urged the Centre to ensure the safety of Sikhs living in war-torn Afghanistan and make unconditional arrangements for those Sikhs willing to return to India. The apex gurdwara body also said that the settlement of such Sikhs returning to the country will be arranged by it.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Bibi Jagir Kaur said she has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in this regard. She urged the Centre to take immediate steps for the security and safety of the Sikhs living in Afghanistan and to make suitable arrangements for those wishing to come to India. --PTI

20:02 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Qatar urges Taliban to cease fire at meeting in Doha

Qatar said it had urged the Taliban to cease fire and pull back their offensive in Afghanistan during a meeting between the Qatari foreign minister and a top representative of the Afghan insurgents in Doha on Saturday. 

Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met the head of the Taliban's political bureau, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to follow up on peace talks hosted by the Gulf country, the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement on its website. "The foreign minister urged the Taliban at the meeting to let up the escalation and to cease fire," it said. --Reuters

19:08 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Pakistan reopens Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing after talks with Taliban

Pakistan on Saturday reopened the Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing with Afghanistan, after two rounds of successful negotiations with the Taliban on repatriating stranded individuals, amidst rapid territorial gains by the militant group in the war-ravaged neighbouring country.

In a blitz assault on Thursday and Friday, the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan's main cities Herat and Kandahar, encircling national capital Kabul. The insurgents are believed to control two-thirds of the country's territory and over half of the 34 provincial capitals. --PTI

18:31 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Looking into requests from Afghan students to facilitate their return to varsity: JNU

Amid a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Saturday said it has received requests from some Afghan students to facilitate their return to the campus and has assured them that the matter is being looked into.

This comes after the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) had written to the varsity's vice-chancellor on Friday, asking him to grant Afghan students the necessary permissions for their visa, along with hostel accommodation on an urgent basis and facilitate their return in view of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. --PTI

16:36 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Afghan lawmaker: Taliban capture city near eastern border

An Afghan lawmaker says the Taliban have captured the capital of the Paktika province bordering Pakistan. Khalid Asad, a lawmaker from the eastern province, says the local capital, Sharana, fell to the insurgents on Saturday. The Taliban have rapidly advanced across northern, western and southern Afghanistan in recent weeks and now control most of the country's provincial capitals. The Taliban are currently battling government forces some 11 kilometers (7 miles) south of the capital, Kabul. Their lightning advance comes less than three weeks before the U.S. plans to withdraw the last of its forces. --AP

15:58 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Taliban seize province near capital, attack northern city

The Taliban seized a province just south of Afghanistan's capital and launched a multi-pronged assault early Saturday on a major city in the north defended by powerful former warlords, Afghan officials said. The insurgents have captured much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan in a breakneck offensive less than three weeks before the United States is set to withdraw its last troops, raising fears of a full militant takeover or another Afghan civil war. --AP

15:34 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Afghanistan's Ghani says consulting with local leaders, international partners

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday he was consulting with local leaders and international partners on the situation in the country, as the Taliban continues its rapid advance. The Taliban pushed closer to Kabul on Saturday, capturing a key city near Afghanistan's capital as American troops flew in to help evacuate embassy personnel and other civilians. --Reuters

14:56 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Won’t allow ‘imposed war’ on Afghans to bring further killings, says President Ghani

In his first televised address to the nation since Taliban advance, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani Saturday said he will not allow "the imposed war" on Afghans to bring further killings, loss of the gains of past 20 years, destruction of public property and continued instability, reported TOLOnews. "I assure you that as your president my focus is to prevent further instability, violence and displacement of the people," TOLOnews quoted Ghani as saying.

14:05 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Editorial| As Taliban makes a rapid military advance through Afghanistan, India too must brace itself for the consequences

The wheel has turned almost full circle in Afghanistan. The Taliban first stormed to power in 1996, with an open demonstration of medieval cruelty and a barbaric transition to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Twenty-five years later, and two decades after they were ousted from their seat in Kabul by the US and other NATO forces, their steady march through the country as they capture one strategic city after another indicates that their return to Kabul may not be far away. According to the latest reports, the militants control two-thirds of the Afghan land mass, including in the non-Pashtun north where their advance was stalled in the 1990s by the Northern Alliance. There is no Northern Alliance this time. The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces — including a 1,80,000 strong Afghan National Army, and a police force with 1,50,000 personnel, besides an air force and other security wings — trained by the US military, have proved unequal to the task of holding on to territory and containing the Taliban. (Read more here)

13:15 (IST)14 Aug 2021
🚨Taliban launched multi-pronged assault on Mazar-e-Sharif

The Taliban on Saturday launched a multi-pronged assault on Mazar-e-Sharif, a major city in the north defended by powerful former warlords, Afghan officials said.

12:36 (IST)14 Aug 2021
🚨 Taliban captures Logar province, less than 80 km from Kabul

In another major gain for the insurgents, Taliban captured Logar province, situated less than 80 kilometres south of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, new agency AP has said.  Homa Ahmadi, a lawmaker from Logar said that the Taliban controlled the entire province, including its capital, and reached a district in the neighbouring Kabul province on Saturday.

The Taliban have also captured much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan less than three weeks before the United States is set to withdraw its last troops.

11:33 (IST)14 Aug 2021
Taliban take over radio station after capturing Kahandar

The Taliban seized a radio station in Kandahar and took to the airwaves Saturday after capturing much of southern Afghanistan in a rapid offensive that has raised fears of a full takeover less than three weeks before the US is set to withdraw its last troops. The Taliban have captured much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan in recent weeks, leaving the Western-backed government in control of a smattering of provinces in the centre and east, as well as the capital, Kabul, and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The Taliban released a video in which an unnamed insurgent announced the takeover of the city's main radio station, which has been renamed the Voice of Sharia, or Islamic law. He said all employees were present and would broadcast news, political analysis and recitations of the Quran, the Islamic holy book. It appears the station will no longer play music

A Taliban fighter inside the city of Farah. (AP)

While the capital of Kabul isn’t directly under threat yet, the losses and advances elsewhere further tighten the grip of a resurgent Taliban. The latest US military intelligence assessment suggests Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that, if current trends hold, the Taliban could gain full control of the country within a few months.

Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban would again impose a brutal, repressive government, all but eliminating women’s rights and conducting public executions.

On Thursday, Three Indian engineers had to be airlifted from a Taliban-controlled area in Afghanistan, prompting the Indian embassy in Kabul to reiterate on Thursday its security advisory for Indian nationals in the war-ravaged country.

Who are the Taliban – Part I: From hardliners to moderates, is there a generational shift?
Who are the Taliban – Part 2: Will there be changes on the ground?
Who are the Taliban? Part 3: Why Taliban is not going to find it easy in the second coming
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